SAN DIEGO – New technology being developed at San Diego State University could — in the future — help firefighters stay ahead of a wildfire.
Inside SDSU’s Visualization Center, manager Justin Freiler is playing with fire; not literally, but in the virtual sense.
“Using Google Earth and a projector, we can project light onto a simulator table covered in sand. We can then manipulate the sand to match the topography,” he said.
Not only can the Simtable match elevation, Freiler can actually start a simulated fire.
“We can adjust wind direction, humidity, temperature; all the things that affect fire behavior,” Freiler said.
By doing so, it may be possible to see and perhaps predict the direction of a wildland fire.
“The second generation we’re testing now has additional features, like the ability to show where smoke from a fire may be headed and where spot fires could occur,” he said.
The biggest thing about generation 2 is that using a QR code embedded in the system, the mapping features can be used outside of the lab.
“Any firefighter with a smartphone or tablet could download it and have the mapping system,” said Freiler.
They are not there yet, as a mobile app is still in development, but the hope is to make the system available to firefighters in the near future.
Learn more about SDSU’s Simtable: http://www.simtable.com