Mountaintop Eyes Help Battle 2007 Wildfires
Live video and still photos helped fire crews and San Diego County residents monitor the rapidly changing path of the catastrophic October 2007 wildfires. The series of fires burned at least 1,500 homes and more than 500,000 acres from Santa Barbara County to the U.S.-Mexico border. Nine people died as a direct result of the fires and 85 others were injured, including at least 61 fire fighters. Cameras operated by the National Science Foundation supported High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) served as a network of mountaintop eyes in San Diego County, even as fires roared past the towers on which the cameras continued to operate. Human observers had been evacuated from the observation posts. The HPWREN network is led by San Diego Supercomputer Center researcher Hans Werner Braun with partners at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and San Diego State University. More than 10,000 people had access to the network's images.
In addition to assisting state and local authorities during wildfires, HPWREN also provides high-speed Internet access to remote areas for field researchers in geophysics, astronomy and ecology. HPWREN also is used for network analysis research and it has supported educational opportunities for rural Native American learning centers and schools. For more information see http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news.