Aircraft Intel: A Powerful Technology That Has Taken Off

Sep 23, 2015 12:00:00 PM / by Joy Collins

Aircraft Intel Tool from SITUATIONANALYST by Intterra

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to field test a new technology even before you launch the company that's building it, but that was indeed the case with SITUATIONANALYST’s Aircraft Intel tool. Initially field tested during Cal Fire's battle with the Southern Fire Seige of 2007 and again in NorCal in 2008, Aircraft Intel—paired with a super high-tech aircraft imagery service from Range and Bearing Corporation—helped provide much-needed aid to those events as firefighters labored to understand what was happening in real time during the firefight. Ventura County Fire Department helped in subsequent years pioneer with Intterra the regular use of live Infrared support to firefighting efforts. The technology has become an everyday tool since then with a permanent home in the SITUATIONANALYST software. 

Here’s a bit of a primer for those who may be unfamiliar with this technology:

Glossary of Terms

  • Situational Awareness — The ideal of comprehending all the key factors at an incident so that the best decisions possible can be made by all parties throughout an emergency response.

  • IR Aircraft — Aircraft acquired or borrowed by your state or jurisdiction provisioned for taking high-tech imagery including infrared that's run by an outsourced expert service.

  • Intel — Aerial imagery, videos, and emergency-related info analyzed by technical wildland firefighters and processed by an expert service and then delivered to SITUATIONANALYST.

  • SITUATIONANALYST (SA) — A software service that provides situational awareness (through mapping of useful information) that can help you make the best-informed decisions possible. Everyone who is logged into SA can be given permission to see real-time mapping and aerial images like infra-red and video of an incident.

How It Works

Aircraft Intel is a tool within Intterra's SITUATIONANALYST software service that allows you to view images and videos gathered from a special aircraft mission, which are then mapped to their originating location. These aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras and infra-red sensors that are operated by highly trained personnel who acquire, process, and deliver the imagery to SITUATIONANALYST. The aircraft and sensors can be commercial call-when-needed platforms or government-owned packages that can be ordered by your jurisdiction. The sensors (even on drones) can fly over the incident, process the images on board, and send perimeters, hotspots, images and videos to firefighters on the ground using any device. All in a matter of seconds.

Getting Started

You can contact an agency that uses the tools (like the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control) to request access to the system or Intterra itself to see how it works. Once you have access, the tools are simple. Zoom to an incident that is using the system and select the imagery, videos, and other information you need. 

You can see the aircraft track over the fire and the heat perimeter and imagery flow into your map while the flight is in progress. Operational personnel can map other fire features with their fingers. It's as easy as sketching on the map. The drawings are instantly shared with everyone else logged into the system.

Real-Time & Best-Available, Not a History Lesson

SA's Aircraft Intel tool is intended to be used for day or night operational support, giving firefighters and incident management the ability to see how fires are moving in real-time. SA reflects what is actually happening on the ground. It is not a 'survey-grade' GIS mapping product. It is real-time guidance. Incident mapping personnel and fire behavior analysts find it extremely beneficial to see what is actually going on and how the fire is behaving. The philosophy is that it is better to have the best-available information delivered to the fire as soon as it is collected, rather than "perfect data" that is analyzed and delivered many hours later, when it is more or less a history lesson.

Using SA's Aircraft Intel Tool

This year, the State of Colorado has been using the Aircraft Intel imagery provided to SA by Colorado's own mission specialists. Firefighters, sheriffs, and other emergency managers can view and use these images in the Colorado Wildfire Information Management System (CO-WIMS)—the state's unique application of SA.

With much-reduced fire danger due to more-than-usual rainfall this year, the State of Colorado has made CO-WIMS available as a wildfire resource for Oregon and Washington. It is proven to be easy to order and can be requested state-to-state, in ROSS, or via Mutual Aid. It is as easy as ordering an engine!

If you want to learn more about Aircraft Intel or any of the other information that can be viewed on a mobile map with SITUATIONANALYST, we can show you how it works with a live online demo.

Request an Online Demo of SA's Aircraft Intel Today

Topics: SituationAnalyst, Aircraft, Imagery, intel

Joy Collins

Written by Joy Collins