July 25, 2006

HPWREN Provides Network Connectivity and VoIP to Horse Fire Incident Command Post

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) contacted HPWREN on late Sunday afternoon (July 23rd) to set up communications for a high-speed wireless data at an Incident Command Post (ICP) in support of firefighting operations during the Horse Fire in San Diego County. The fire is situated within the Cleveland National Forest and firefighting efforts are being led by the United States Forest Service (USFS).

Horse Fire
This east-pointing HPWREN automated digital camera on Lyons Peak observes the extent of the fire around 8PM on Sunday, July 23, 2006. This camera continues to collect and archive images for further processing.

Several Day 1 images of the Horse Fire

31MB Day 1 animation, as seen from the Lyons East pointing camera

14MB Day 1 animation, as seen from the Mt. Laguna west pointing camera

Animations, as seen from the Lyons east pointing camera: July 23 (102MB) - July 24 (149MB) - July 25 (128MB) - July 26 (134MB) - July 27 (126MB)

Since it was too late in the day to undertake the deployment, the installation was planned for Monday morning. The initial work included installation of a radio and antenna at the HPWREN backbone site on Lyons Peak, which provides connectivity to the ICP located at the Viejas Community Center.

Horse Fire connection

(Top) HPWREN team member Jim Hale is installing the antenna on Lyons Peak

(Right) The antenna and radio were installed on Lyons Peak to point toward the ICP. A north-pointing fixed HPWREN camera is shown to the right of the radio.

Horse Fire support

Once the Lyons Peak site was in order, the HPWREN team moved onto work at the Viejas Community Center ICP site. The first step at the ICP was setting up an initial test radio, which revealed that the link provided marginal connectivity; this was due to an obstruction between the Lyons Peak antenna and the ICP antenna. Although the San Diego Sheriff's Department offered their tower locations for a possible relay site between Lyons Peak and the ICP, a nearby hill on Viejas land appeared to be an ideal site for such. To secure applicable permissions, a California State Senator's team got involved, and eventually an escort was provided by the Viejas tribal leaders so that an ad-hoc relay was positioned atop the water tower site. Installed quickly, the relay operated via a large battery and encompassed a radio and two tripod-mounted antennas. This initial ad-hoc relay site allowed for reliable and speedy network performance until the CDF was able to establish a longer-term solution.

When the CDF Emergency Operations Support Mobile Communications Center vehicle arrived, the ICP radio and antenna were installed onto that vehicle. CDF's Doug Mitchell then took over the connectivity within the ICP itself. HPWREN also provided Mitchell with four Voice-over-IP phones, which communicate via HPWREN with phone lines provided by the San Diego Sheriff's Department near downtown San Diego.

Horse Fire ICP
Horse Fire ICP connection completed

(Left) At the ICP itself, HPWREN Principal Investigator Hans-Werner Braun (right in the photo) is mounting the antenna onto the CDF Communications vehicle, with HPWREN volunteer Jim Davidson (left in the photo) holding the radio to be installed.

(Top) The completed link is now ready to be used in support of the Incident Command Post of the Horse Fire in San Diego County.

Highlights of this ICP installation:

  • HPWREN now has successfully deployed wireless network connectivity in six out of six cases where CDF requested help
  • This is the first operational HPWREN Voice-over-IP deployment, which is done in collaboration with the San Diego Sheriff's Department
  • CDF involvement via recently hired IT-staff Doug Mitchell resulted in a much more collaborative approach, with a better distribution of responsibilities and technology/expertise transfer
  • Ellen Malin, Field Representative for California State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth was of great help to obtain permission for equipment deployment on Native American land

More photos of the installation are at http://archive.hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20060724/.

A National Science Foundation press release has been posted at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=107121&org=olpa&from=news

54MB NBC clip from a July 27 interview. 204MB mpeg2 version.

HPWREN First Responder collaboration handout

A fire incident summary for the Horse Fire is available at http://inciweb.org/incident/news/article/336/731/, which is pointed to by http://inciweb.org/incident/336/.

Other related pointers:

 back to top

  back to HPWREN news

field research
network analysis
  ~ university of california, san diego ~ © 2000 ~