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

Aug 03, 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: Applications of optical fibre for sensors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A more tolerant America?

Mar 16, 2015

As the nation's headlines turn more and more to issues of tolerance—race, religion, free speech, same sex marriage—research by San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean M. Twenge shows that ...

Smart products tackle pancakes, makeovers

Mar 13, 2015

In the persistent quest to take all human effort out of basic tasks, manufacturers showcased several new "smart" products at the recent International Home and Housewares Show that tackle everything from pancake design to ...

Will next-generation wearable sensors make us healthier?

Mar 10, 2015

There is certainly no shortage of headlines on wearable sensors these days. "A contact lens measures your glucose level." "New electronic tattoos could help monitor health during normal daily activities." A "headband can read your brainwaves." Numerous wearable sensors are cu ...

Recommended for you

Applications of optical fibre for sensors

8 hours ago

Mikel Bravo-Acha's PhD thesis has focused on the applications of optical fibre as a sensor. In the course of his research, conducted at the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre, he monitored a sensor fitted to optical fibre ...

Engineering students use sound waves to put out fires

10 hours ago

Two engineering students at George Mason University have found a way to use sound waves to quash fires and have built a type of extinguisher using what they have learned that they hope will revolutionize ...

User comments : 0

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.