San Diego supercomputer team backs firefighters in recent 'Horse' wildfires

August 3, 2006

Firefighters facing fast-spreading wildfires, especially in remote areas where communications and other resources are scarce, can now add "cyberinfrastructure" to their firefighting arsenals.

Such combined hardware and software proved useful in the recent "Horse Fire" in California's Cleveland National Forest, when experts from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, responded to the urgent request of state firefighters for quick and reliable wireless communication among widespread teams.

That communication was speedily provided by the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN), a resource supported by the National Science Foundation and staffed by researchers at the SDSC, UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), and San Diego State University. Within a day, SDSC experts were on the scene, establishing high-speed wireless data links.

HPWREN teams are no strangers to wildfires and catastrophes, but this was the first time that vital communication lifelines used Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) technology – allowing wireless links from the Horse Fire command post to the Internet and to deployed firefighting teams.

Hans-Werner Braun, principal investigator on the program, and SIO seismologist Frank Vernon, co-principal investigator, lead the SDSC effort for HPWREN, and both recognize the value of cyberinfrastructure in responding to crises.

"Reliable communication is absolutely essential in emergencies and disasters," said Braun, "especially when response teams may be spread over a wide area, where some forms of communication aren't available or won't work. The wireless links to the Internet we provide through the HPWREN collaboration can keep everybody talking and responding effectively – a practical, lifesaving application of our research that we find especially gratifying."

Vernon agrees. "Although our primary roles are research and education, very important in themselves, we never forget that the ultimate aim of science, scholarship and study is improving people's lives – sometimes even saving lives."

To help support the firefighter's command post, the HPWREN team worked closely with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. Forest Service, Viejas tribal leaders, and the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Source: University of California - San Diego

Explore further: Researchers show viability of 5G communication with record-setting data rates

Related Stories

New tool for fighting wildlife trafficking

December 9, 2016

A new tool for fighting wildlife trafficking developed by a team led by a UC San Diego mechanical engineering alum has been selected as the overall winner of the inaugural global "Zoohackathon" sponsored by the U.S. Government's ...

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.