Because Tactical Users Need Tactically Actionable Content
iCode is developing innovations that are operationally responsive to the needs of today’s Wildfire Fighters. For over 17 years observations from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) equipped Terra and Aqua satellites have been used to detect fires from space. More recently, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the Suomi NNP satellite has contributed to this effort by producing higher resolution images of the Earth’s Surface. These satellites have similar orbits, but the spatial resolution of their sensor’s thermal bands is different. The thermal band of MODIS has a 1,000 meters resolution per pixel whereas VIIRS has a 375 meters resolution per pixel. This higher resolution enables VIIRS to detect fires that MODIS overlooks, however when it comes to detecting fires, MODIS provides crisper background images using an array of other sensors. This is attributed to the fact that MODIS has a 250 meters spatial resolution for other than the thermal bands and thus can produce more detailed land surface images. Nevertheless, VIIRS is well suited tool for monitoring fire activity, and it enables scientists and firefighters to model and predict shifts in a fire’s behavior more accurately.
Still, firefighters often wait tens of minutes, if not well over an hour before detections collected by these orbiting satellites reach them. When wildfires like those recently seen in California begin to travel at speeds approaching 100 yards a minute (or 5 feet per second), one recognizes that alternative solutions are needed. Recognizing this need, iCode is prototyping a series of innovative solutions capable of broadcasting the precise locations of active wildfires, under the “FireCast” designation.
iCode’s FireCast innovations are designed to complement the series of sensors aboard aircraft flying hundreds to a few thousands of feet above the terrain. In the near future Full Motion Video (FMV) collected aboard the aircraft will be processed and stored by an onboard FireCast processing engine. This embedded component can be configured to deliver this tactically actionable digital content to end users within seconds of the initial wildfire observation. Since the digitized FireCast content is less voluminous than the originating FMV stream being processed, it can be transported via LTE-based communications circuits instead of over dedicated point-to-point directional data links. This removes the need for the host platform to be configured with specialized and costly transceivers and directional antennas.
End-users equipped with the FRX mobile app can select the persistence of each FireCast “frame” to aid in visualizing areas where the fire is present on the map. The ability to detect and track the progression of a fire using the image processing and machine learning neural engine residing within the mobile device itself (i.e., on the iPhoneX and beyond) is another feature under technical consideration.