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Smartphone applications for data collection, dynamic modeling, and visualization in the wildland fire environment

Author(s): Jim Riddering, Zachary A. Holden, William Matt Jolly, Allen Warren
Year Published: 2015

Rapid advances in cellular phone technology have transformed portable telephones into “smart” phones; powerful, portable personal computers equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), cameras, and a suite of tools for accessing and storing information. Smartphones offer the ability to connect to large servers via both cell and wireless networks with a speed and power that is truly remarkable when compared with what was available only 10 years ago. The sheer numbers of smartphones being used globally make them a potent tool for distributing, as well as collecting, information (Kwok 2009). Smartphone applications (apps) are rapidly being embraced as a tool for collecting data across a range of disciplines in the earth sciences (Kwok 2009). Equipped with GPS, local time information, and a camera, smartphones can be a tool for collecting and storing environmental data. For example, weather modelers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have developed and promoted an app called mPING (precipitation information near the ground, http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/ping/) for collecting information about the form (e.g., hail, snow, rain) and timing of precipitation. Other applications in environ mental sciences include collecting of epidemiological information (Aanensen et al. 2009) and identifying and recording the location of bird species (Wood et al. 2011). Perhaps the most obvious use of mobile technologies in fire management is in the collection and sharing of weather information. For firefighters, the ability to quickly receive the latest weather information is critical. Historically, weather observations were collected and shared via radio communications. The rise of mobile computing allows for digital sharing of weather observations and allows firefighters to access different sources of weather information through the variety of weather applications available for mobile devices. Rapid access to weather forecasts, observations, and supplemental environmental data have the potential to greatly enhance situational awareness and firefighter safety. 

Citation: Riddering, J.; Holden, Z.A.; Jolly, W.M.; Warren, A. 2015. Smartphone applications for data collection, dynamic modeling, and visualization in the wildland fire environment. Fire Management Today. 74(3): 10-14.
Topic(s): Fire Communication & Education
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 13749
Record updated: Mar 14, 2018