Fire managers must constantly evaluate forests, often through costly helicopter flights. But with satellite technology, a reliable machine-to-machine connection is transforming operations. Nupoint Systems Inc. plays a role in this revolution through development of its Globalstar-powered Remote Viewer. The portable, affordable, IP-based camera gives fire suppression crews critical knowledge in advance of deployment.
“In the past, there simply wasn’t connectivity,” says Wayne Carlson, president of Nupoint Systems of British Columbia, Canada. “With satellite technology, it’s a brand new day for forest management.”
Eight-million km2 of Canadian land lies outside the range of traditional cellular and GSM networks. The portion of that area identified for modified response or prescribed burns, adds up to a lot of ground to cover through visual monitoring and each helicopter flight can cost between $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the distance.
“The major advantages of the Globalstar system over competing systems are its affordability, low power consumption and simplicity. It is an IP-based solution, which means we can use standard Internet protocols to transfer files. Because we don’t need to create a custom back-end, the applications are much simpler to implement.”
Increasingly, fire managers are tapping satellite-powered M2M communications solutions to drive profitability, effectiveness and performance. “The opportunity for satellite technology is enormous,” says Carlson. “And, with the Globalstar footprint, we can go international. The sky is the limit.”
A range of innovative applications are emerging. Nupoint Systems had developed a compact, rugged, satellite data transceiver powered by the GSP-1720 Satellite Data and Voice Module Nupoint’s SD200-G can work with virtually any monitoring equipment to collect and send data from assets beyond the reach of terrestrial communication systems.
“The major advantages of the Globalstar system over competing systems are its affordability, low power consumption and simplicity. It is an IP-based solution, which means we can use standard Internet protocols to transfer files,” says Carlson. “Because we don’t need to create a custom back-end, the applications are much simpler to implement.”
The SD200-G was already used in a wide range of applications—such as weather sites, pollution detection systems and early warning systemsbut Nupoint Systems didn’t stop there.
When a user asked whether a camera could be integrated into the SD200-G, the company answered with its Remote Viewer. The complicated device works with an eloquent simplicity. The camera snaps the picture, and the transceiver stores the photo and sends it to Nupoint Systems’ server. The image is then emailed to the customer’s smartphone, tablet or PC.
Fire agencies no longer need to fly out just for monitoring. In one year, information provided by the Remote Viewer saved the Government of Alberta the cost of at least four helicopter flights. Plus, the device can run around two months on a single battery. “It allows them to be more effective and productive while saving money,” says Carlson.
The satellite-powered Remote Viewer also improves safety. If a dispatch is required, the crew will know the situation beforehand and because the camera has near-infrared capability, images taken at night can identify whether the perimeter of the fire is expanding.
“Without the Remote Viewer, firefighters would have to fly in the middle of the night to get the same images, which is much more dangerous,” says Carlson.