Airborne cameras join CFA battle against bushfire

Airborne cameras join CFA battle against bushfire

19 January 2010

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Australia — Fighting fires will be a lot easier with new technology transmitting live aerial footage.

Currently being trialled in Ballarat, the Electronic Aerial Reconnaissance System involves cameras being fitted to the underwing of fire detecting planes.

Used by the Country Fire Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment, the system would transmit information directly to incident-management teams via the Telstra 3G network.

State Aircraft Unit acting manager Barry Scott said the system was not only much cheaper than the current equipment available, but was more accurate.

“The development of the 3G Networks means the capacity to stream compressed data has become more viable,” he said.

While a plane with the equipment was not used to observe the recent Mt Clear fires, Mr Scott said it had been used by local CFA at the weekend on reconnaissance flights and used during training exercises.

He said it would complement the work already carried out by air observers.

“With this cheaper technology, if the trial shows the system is robust and efficient, in the long term numerous aircraft used by CFA and DSE in regional Victoria will be fitted with this technology,” he said.

“It will be used to convey (images) by the air observers who are gathering information on things like fire spread, threats and hazards, back to the incident management team.

“These cameras can provide additional feedback in terms of footage of what they (the air observers) are actually seeing.”

Mr Scott said if the trial continued to be a success then the technology could be introduced across the state.

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