News Archive

HPWREN Provides Data Connectivity for Remote Wildfire Operations Site

Published 07/28/2003

The following news item was contributed by the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) project, a joint effort of SDSC and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (both organized research units of the University of California, San Diego). HPWREN is creating, demonstrating, and evaluating a non-commercial prototype of a high-performance, wide-area wireless network in San Diego county. This NSF-funded network includes backbone nodes on the UC San Diego campus and a number of "hard to reach" areas in San Diego county; it not only is used for network analysis research, but also provides high-speed Internet access to field researchers from several disciplines (geophysics, astronomy, ecology) and educational opportunities for rural Native American learning centers and schools. See for more information.

On the afternoon of July 16, lightning ignited the Coyote Wildfire in northeastern San Diego County and more than 18,000 acres were lost by the time the fire was contained on July 23. Thanks to the HPWREN team, the firefighters at the remote operations site were provided with data connectivity for the week-long incident. This wireless high-speed data link allowed them to update wildfire status reports, images, and weather information in real-time.

"The dissemination of information and incident intelligence up and down the command and control chain of command is more important than ever. These functions are being facilitated through the Internet and other network connections more than ever," said Jim Garrett, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Emergency Command Center Chief. "The connectivity provided to CDF for the Coyote Fire was a real life exercise which clearly demonstrated how valuable and useful the technology provided by HPWREN is to our agency."

"We were able to get high speed data connectivity to a remote incident base location within eight hours after the request was made," further explained Garrett. "HPWREN provided us an invaluable service that cannot be overestimated."

"All in all, the initial antenna and data connectivity setup probably did not take much more than eight hours after the request was made," said HPWREN Principal Investigator Hans-Werner Braun. "Then, the next day we added a real-time high-resultion network camera at the operations site to allow for remote image access to the local situation."

The real-time high-resolution network camera at the operations site can be viewed at while additional photographs of the overall connectivity installation are available at the following pages:

For more information about the Coyote Fire, please refer to

- Kimberly Mann Bruch