News From Wildfire Detection Systems

"The WFDS can monitor grasslands, but it shines in forest settings by detecting smoke far sooner than flames might reach the crowns of tall trees, finally making them visible to observers."

San Diego State University Research Council In The News Publication


WDS Increases Cameras Per Server To 25, Adds More Operating Systems

WDS announced it has upgraded its server based system to accommodate more cameras, increasing the number of cameras on a single network to 25. At the same time, WDS has expanded the operating systems compatible with the WFDS software to include Windows Server 2008. According to WDS, both of these innovations increase both the capability and versatility of the wildfire detection system without substantially increasing the price of the basic monitoring system control software. By increasing the number of cameras that can be controlled and monitored by a single network server, monitoring entities can cover nearly 2,000 more square kilometers without the cost of more servers or desktop machines and more software licenses.

It also allows a single operator to be responsible for more monitored territory without compromising safety, reliability or by increasing their workload due to the automated nature of the WDS system. (Even with more cameras to manage, a monitoring technician will be automatically alerted to smoke or fire in a given areas and can look in on just camera that is reporting.) The expansion integrates into server based system, which means more servers can be added for expansion at the same monitoring center, or the entity can "distribute" monitoring to separate centers making information available from each center to each center. The operating system expansion to include Windows Server 2008 allows many centers, which already use this very popular server software, to run the WDS software on existing equipment, thus lowering costs further.

WDS Now Monitors Thousands Of Square Miles

For users requiring coverage over extremely large areas, WDS introduces a large scale distributed processing solution. This version of a "very wide area network" makes it even easier to expand monitoring by connecting many systems together, allowing monitoring from a single or multiple control centers. By adding environmentally compatible (weather, heat, fire resistant) field computers placed at each camera site and "OPEN Paths" OPSF mesh network communications, WDS is able to provide basically an unlimited number sensors connected to a single command and control center. The system provides for priority based video display and all of the features included in the desktop and server based systems.

OPEN Paths selects the first viable communications option introduced, which means networks are self-configuring and self-healing. In effect, this protocol provides multiple paths for each camera to choose over which it sends its signaling and data, so the individual camera "node" can select the best path. This means there is redundancy if a path is not available as well. It also simplifies setup and configuration since the setup files are very similar for each station. The bottom line is that a single monitoring station operator can use one screen to monitor as many as 130 sites simultaneously, allowing for lower personnel costs and increased territory to be monitored by ganging multiple monitoring systems together, or by distributing the monitoring capability among many different systems.

WDS Used For Monitoring Wildfires Related To Power Transmission

WDS was recently awarded contract by a major Southwestern US power utility (name is with held by client request due to security concerns). Located in the wildfire-prone Southwestern United States, a major electric utility has added a WDS wild fire monitoring/detection/alert system to a new major power transmission line to provide monitoring and alarms in the proximity area of this key infrastructure. While not often a direct cause of fire, there are instances where power transmission lines are associated with wildfire creation from various causes including lightening, arson, accidents, high winds and earthquakes in addition to less frequent power line faults from the wires themselves.

In addition to actually lessening any potential damage from power-line related wildfires, the utility expects to see lower insurance claims and other liabilities decrease. The power utility involved didn't have automated monitoring for any of its other infrastructure assets, but is trying this on a new transmission setup to protect key elements of its system. It also expects to see lowers personnel costs, increases in monitoring accuracy and faster response time over manual monitoring. It is also hoping to be able to put more of its asset base under some type of active monitoring program. The system is soon to be operational with thirty cameras and two monitoring stations.

DOE Asks WDS To Monitor Wildfires At Large-Scale Research Facility

The United States Department Of Energy has awarded WDS a contract providing systems to monitor large areas prone to wildfires from lighting strikes on a major energy development campus (890 sq miles). The DOE research center, located in the Western part of the country shares a similar mission with other such centers in researching energy options for the future from a variety of sources. This creates a need for relatively large-scale testing areas that while isolated, can still pose a threat to facility assets, experiments and staff if a wildfire. The facility (again location has been withheld because of security concerns) has its own firefighting department but has not tried automated monitoring before. The center has deployed a test with two cameras covering 200 square miles or about one quarter of the area of the center. If successful, the center says it will likely deploy more cameras to monitor the totality of the campus