Partnership develops UAS, GIS solution to assist firefighters

By Patrick C. Miller | October 10, 2017

Insitu Inc. has formed partnerships with two companies that use information from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) during wildfires to assist incident commanders and firefighters in safely directing resources to critical areas.

Through a partnership with FireWhat Inc. and Esri, aerial reconnaissance for fighting wildfires is provided by Insitu’s INEXA Solutions, which includes INEXA Control and Insitu air vehicles—such as the ScanEagle—equipped with the new high-accuracy photogrammetry (HAP) payload.

The INEXA Solutions professional aerial remote sensing services group will work with FireWhat’s fire professionals—using its geographic information system (GIS) customized for firefighters—and hosted on Esri’s ArcGIS platform.

“This is a revolutionary breakthrough in firefighting, as the typical 12-to-24 hours of critical information lag time during darkness or in smoky conditions is eliminated,” said Jon Damush, vice president and general manager of Insitu Commercial.

This summer in Bend, Oregon, Insitu teamed with FireWhat and Esri to conduct a successful demonstration of the system. Using data gathered by the ScanEagle, FireWhat produced geospatial maps with its custom software to assist incident commanders, firefighters and first responders.

ScanEagle’s aerial remote sensor imagery is integrated with GIS to provide near-real time live, web-based video feed of thermal images to FireWhat’s ground-based mobile command centers.

“Employing UAVs to provide real-time data to track, plan and predict how dangerous events like wildfires evolve is important to the future of emergency response,” said S.J. Camarata, director of Esri Worldwide Global Business Development and Strategies.

FireWhat—headquartered in Dunsmuir, California—is a natural resource management company that develops mobile- and web-based technologies for land, asset and resource managers. It specializes in automating and streamlining emergency management practices using GIS.

Esri, an international developer of GIS software located in Redlands, California, offers mapping and spatial analytics technology to improve operational and business results. The company engineers advanced solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things and location analytics for informational maps.

“Combining INEXA Solutions’ integrated imagery with FireWhat’s solution that incorporates Esri’s ArcGIS creates a ‘best of breed’ solution that will enable firefighters to quickly determine the best possible actions to take through GIS mapping,” Damush said.