Helicopter operator Inaer introduced Einforex, a system that updates 3-D maps with firefighting information such as fire front location, past water drops and populated areas. The government of Spain tested the system last summer. Einforex will cost U60,000 ($80,000) for a three-month campaign.
The system has two main components: a multi-sensor camera on board an observation aircraft and software that enables fusion of data onto the maps used by an emergency control center.
Inaer developed the camera, which includes three video sensors–standard, high-resolution and infrared. The camera operator selects one of the three sensors. Usually the operator will take still pictures, but motion pictures can be taken, too. The camera was tested on a Bell 407, a Eurocopter AS 355 and an AgustaWestland AW109, said José Luis Saiz Díaz, Inaer’s director for onshore projects.
The pictures are then processed in three or five minutes, according to Eva Rodriguez, Inaer’s forestry engineer. The resulting image is a bird’s eye view of the area on fire. “This is much better than a satellite-like view; 3-D better tells you where the top of the mountain is,” Rodriguez said.
The image shows the fire’s path and current outlines, identifying them as front, tail and sides. Shown, too, are populated areas, evacuation roads and the fire’s forward speed. The image tracks both ground teams and water drop operations. “You can see whether there is actually water in a river or whether a factory is in operation,” Rodriguez added.
The data is sent and adapted to the 3-D maps regularly–every 15 minutes, for example, allowing emergency control centers to establish and adapt their strategy. He said Inaer has 15 prospective customers for Einforex.