Video Streaming Used To Help Fight Wildfires

Emergency services agencies across Australia are adopting a video-streaming system called m-View to transmit live fire video from the frontlines and the air to decision-makers on the ground, according to the system’s manufacturer, Momentum Technologies Solutions.

The system is also being used in California.

One of the Australian agencies is Victoria’s State Aircraft Unit (SAU), which conducted a trial of m-View following Victoria’s February 2009 “Black Saturday” fires that killed 173 people and injured 414 at an estimated economic cost of more than $1 billion.

The m-View system uses what Momentum Technologies calls a MAVEO (mobile audio video for emergency operations) unit. It combines a rugged computer with video cameras and a 3G wireless network card to provide a wireless broadband connection from the air.

During the trial period, the Victoria SAU purchased and configured a MAVEO unit into one of its light aircraft. At the control center, decision-makers could view a fire’s progress and the effect of air-dropped fire retardant on an advancing fire-front, all live, to make quick and informed decisions.

“Traditionally we used voice communication as our primary means of describing what was going on with a fire, but this can be open to interpretation,” said Adam Damen of Victoria’s SAU. “The m-View system puts a picture to the words.”

The SAU also deployed m-View Mobile, which converts mobile phones into video broadcasters. 
The m-View system is being used in California through the SAU’s ongoing working relationship with Coulson’s Aircrane in Canada, according to Momentum Technologies. Coulson’s introduced m-View to the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Multiple Video Feeds

Another Aussie-based client is the New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB), the fourth largest urban fire service in the world with 400 stations responding to around 260,000 incidents a year.
The NSW Fire Brigades system, dubbed FireCam, was recently installed and is a complete fire response system, using multiple MAVEO units, m-View Mobiles and m-View GoPacks (headcams coupled with an ultra portable personal computer).
Multiple video feeds from m-View broadcasters go through the m-View server, along with road and traffic video from the NSW Roads Traffic Authority and the NSW Police Force, to provide decision-makers with the most complete and accurate picture possible – all in real-time.

Knowing Versus Guessing

“To be able to actually see a picture of what’s happening in the field rather than having to imagine what that looks like gives us the advantage of knowing rather than guessing what’s happening out there,” said Graham Tait, deputy manager, operational communication, NSW Fire

Momentum Technologies said the m-View system’s clients have identified a number of benefits, including:

•  Increased situational awareness, helping the command center make better decisions faster and reducing the risk to personnel and the community.
•  Reduction of travel costs. Experts can log-on from anywhere to view the incident and provide advice.
•  Cost-effectiveness.
•  Improved field safety. Decision-makers have a better idea of what’s going on at the front.
•  Keeping senior management and politicians in the loop. They can watch the footage on their mobile phones.
•  Better post-event analysis and training through archived videos.

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