Background: Rising temperatures, declining snowpack, and increasing droughts have unleashed a wildfire crisis of unprecedented proportions. Across the globe, wildfires have become more frequent and severe, leaving behind a trail of destruction. In Canada alone, over 4,300 active fires in recent times serve as a stark testament to the evolving climate and the escalating threat of wildfires. These infernos are not just environmental disasters; they jeopardize water supplies, disrupt economies, and pose a severe threat to human lives and property. As wildfires continue to reshape our landscapes for generations to come, the need for innovative solutions to combat them has never been more pressing. NOAA is a critical provider of fire and weather data and continuously seeks ways to improve access to timely, actionable, and impactful fire-related information and analysis-ready data.
Challenges: The challenges posed by wildfires are multifaceted. Tracking and predicting their occurrence in real-time are daunting tasks. The sheer volume and diversity of data required for comprehensive wildfire monitoring makes it an intricate problem to solve. NOAA’s traditional methods were falling short in the face of these increasing demands. Responding to this critical challenge necessitated an extraordinary effort across many disparate data sources. To combat this, NOAA sought a solution that provides its users real-time access and efficient search and discovery capabilities through a consolidated web application.
Innovation: GAMA-1, in partnership with TechTraverse and the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center’s Next Generation Fire System (NGFS) created an innovative solution to address this challenge. Following the Agile methodologies of SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) and leveraging scalable, distributed, cloud-based technologies, GAMA-1 and TechTraverse engineers developed a cutting-edge Wildland Fire Storefront web portal to the level of a Minimum Viable Product. Powered by a unique NGFS data product that can detect potential fire events from satellite data, the Storefront provides a suite of dynamic, queryable data services to disseminate fire data and products to user communities, including scientific researchers, emergency responders, educators, citizen scientists, and the public. This solution was not just about tracking fires; it was about GAMA-1 helping to equip individuals and organizations with the data they need when they need it to respond effectively and protect lives and property.
The innovation did not stop there. Working closely with the GAMA-1 Science and AWS Cloud Infrastructure Subject Matter Experts as well as the AWS Cloud Software Engineering SMEs of TechTraverse, NOAA embraced the latest generation of API specifications from the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and utilized distributed, cloud-optimized data formats like Zarr and Cloud Optimized Geotiff (COG). These choices empower NOAA to build reusable data access services that not only enhance its web-based user interface but also seamlessly integrate with GIS clients and user-developed software. This move not only makes data more accessible but also opens exciting opportunities for interoperable data use cases, such as correlating fire detections with information about local populations and known fuel types at the location of a fire.
Success: GAMA-1’s Wildland Fire storefront and the partnership between NOAA, NGFS, GAMA-1 Technologies, and TechTraverse are culminating into the development of a next-generation fire detection and data access system – powered by cutting-edge technology and a commitment to data fairness and accessibility.
These innovations will not only address the growing needs of wildland fire communities but will also elevate NOAA’s capabilities in protecting lives and property. Utilizing GAMA-1’s Wildland Fire Storefront, which will provide real-time access to crucial data, fire prediction, and scientific endeavors that were previously unimaginable, will become available. Benefactors of this data, such as emergency responders and scientists, will gain a powerful tool for quick and informed decision-making.
As wildfires continue to rage, GAMA-1 has played an integral part in elevating critical fire data access and contributing to future wildfire prevention. This demonstrates the immense power of innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to data-driven solutions in the face of one of the greatest challenges of our time. This success story is a testament to human ingenuity and resilience when confronted with the fiercest of adversaries—wildfires.