Wildfire Situational Awareness: FTS Wildfire PTZ 

Wildfire PTZAs wildfires continue to burn in the Western United States due to severe weather and lightning activity, it is a reminder that these fires require ongoing monitoring so agencies can make effective decisions to reduce the impact on lives and property. Acting as overwatch, FTS360 software and the Wildfire PTZ provide ground and air attack teams reliable imagery with weather overlay data during the day and near IR at night to support lookout teams. Here are answers to the top questions we get asked about our FTS Wildfire PTZ. 

What is an FTS Wildfire PTZ system

Because of their unique vantages, fire lookout towers make for some of the best wildfire observation sites in North America. However, fire lookout towers are often located in inaccessible locations, limited with respect to power and remote communicationsand can be challenging to station personnel on site for long periods of time. Upgrading existing watch tower structures with our FTS Wildfire PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera) remote observation system solves these problems by putting remote eyes on the ground 24/7, 365 days a year. 

The FTS Wildfire PTZ is a fully automated system equipped with 30-40X zoom PTZ cameras designed to be installed and operate in the most remote, inaccessible locations. Intended to act as early warning fire detection systemsour wildfire camera solution also provides real-time information during an active fire in order to help with coordinated wildfire prevention, monitoring, control, and suppression efforts. 

Time lapse video from the Wildfire PTZ atop Aztec Peak in the Tonto Forest, Arizona. August 21, 2020

Where can the FTS Wildfire PTZ be installed?

The FTS Wildfire PTZ can be configured to operate in a variety of situations. This includes being fitted with an internet connection or wireless cellular modem if cellular service is available on site. Typical installation sites that fall into this category are Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) towers and some radio repeater tower sites. 

For locations without internet or cellular service, FTS can install microwave point to point (P2P) links in order to provide access to internet service. P2P links require direct Line of Sight (LOS) to operate and this often involves installing microwave antenna on towers or structures that sit well above the tree line. FTS is trained in both infrastructure design and installation of these P2P links. Typical installations requiring P2P microwave links are remote communication towers, remote radio repeater towers and forest service wildfire lookout towers. 

When a site does not have AC power, FTS offers a variety of solar packages to meet customer requirements. Designed for the most rugged and remote of applications, this system can function autonomously even during severe storms 

What are the system requirements? 

  • A location with a view of the area of interest: The FTS Wildfire PTZ has impressive zoom capabilities. To best harness this benefit, mount the cameras as high as possible above the tree line with an unobstructed field of view. This requires a tower or structure be present. 
  • A power source: FTS Wildfire PTZ can be configured to run on AC, DC-DC and Solar power with battery backup depending upon the unique needs of the installation site.   
  • An internet connection: A required minimum upload bandwidth of 2.5 MB/s for each camera installed on the same internet connection in order to control the camera and stream live video without interruption. If the intended installation location does not have to have direct internet connection, it can be added as using cellular and/or microwave P2P. 

What software and features are available? 

FTS Wildfire PTZ includes access to FTS360FTS360 is the command and control software that allows the user to configure their camera stations to collect images on a schedule, as well as view stored images and control the live stream video. In addition to camera images and video, FTS360 can configure and manage weather stations, display sensor information, and Wildfire PTZ station health dataEnhance your FTS360 experience with additional features including lightning and smoke overlays, customized FTS360 alerting and calculations, and connections to external services via NodeRED programming. 

FTS360 Overwatch is an add on option allowing information collected by Wildfire PTZ systems, RAWS and other data sources to be shared with a wider audience. It is customer configurable so only those data sources selected will be visible to the wider audience, and, because weather data is as important when fighting fires, this information can be paired with images and video for a complete situational awareness experience. 

For more information about how our FTS Wildfire PTZ can improve wildfire situational awareness and be easily added to lookout towers contact us. We would be happy to setup a demo or answer any additional questions.  

© 2020 Forest Technology Systems Ltd.

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