July 16, 2012

New Web Camera Added to the HPWREN Network

HPWREN recently added another web camera to the network to improve the line of sight for environmental observation of the eastern portion of San Diego County.  Thanks to the support from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the new camera installed atop Mount Woodson will record images east of Ramona all the way to the Cuyamaca Mountains.  Historically, wildfires originating in this area are difficult and costly to defend against and can spread quickly to become disasters.

Pablo Bryant (San Diego State University) installing the camera on the Mt. Woodson tower.

“SDG&E is pleased to contribute to the region’s fire safety and preparedness and storm response by providing this additional camera, which is part of a larger build-out of cameras and other environmental sensors that can help monitor in real-time the potential impacts of weather and fires on our electrical system and local communities,” said Lena Fotland, area resource manager for SDG&E’s construction & operations group.

This latest installation supplements a system of eight San Diego County-funded cameras already on Mount Woodson by capturing a view of the area which currently is blocked by other towers. The HPWREN team mounted the SDG&E-funded camera on a different tower allowing it an unobstructed view to the east.

Example color day view from the camera. This image shows the plume of a small fire below Mount Woodson on June 30.

Example monochrome night view from the camera, with stars and even the Milky Way visible.

The new camera is able to record regular as well as near-infrared images. The infrared capability will help in spotting fires at night when the fire itself is not easily visible through its plume. Having no mechanical parts makes this type of camera ideal for remote deployment. Experience has shown that movable camera parts have a tendency to break, often due to the extreme weather conditions at remote-location deployments on mountain tops. This can be costly and difficult to fix.