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In Order to Track Wildfires, DoD Extends Intelligence Agency Program

track wildfires

The Pentagon announces that it plans to extend a pilot program that offers imagery from the following in order to help track and combat wildfires.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) began the program in 2019, creating a tool that maps the position and shape of fires. Under this project, NGA offers firefighting groups updated maps in 15-minute breaks on regions where fires are quickly spreading.

A spokesman for NGA says that the organization could not comment on what satellites offer the imagery or on any of the sources of the statistics applied for this project, dubbed “Firefly.”

The State of California and the California National Guard first made use of the Firefly tool in 2019. The U.S. Forest Service in 2020 asks DoD to make this service accessible all over the country. “Recognizing the ongoing value of the pilot plan, DoD recently approves an extension of Firefly assistance, through September 2022,” says Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

“This extension will make available time for the National Interagency Fire Center in conference with the Department of Defense. This is in order to develop a sustainable long-term solution for future financing and function of Firefly,” he adds.

Data analytics tools

The U.S. Air Force delivers infrared sensor information from missile-warning satellites. This is in order to assist domestic agencies in spot and chase fires. Satellite information is mixed with other statistics to make fire mapping more precise and predict wildfire positions.

Fireball International, an Australian company with an origin in February 2020, develops an artificial intelligence platform. The platform analyzes images from satellites and ground-based cameras to identify and forecast wildfires.

The firm uses Amazon’s cloud to examine 2.5 million images and over 30 gigabytes of satellite information a day. This is according to a news release and can alert agencies of potential wildfires within three minutes of smoke recognition.

Fireball International began as an educational project at the University of California Berkeley. This is in order to test how technology could be utilized to enhance the estimate and early recognition of wildfires.

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