By Bobby Carlton
Intellic Technologies uses VR tools to give first responders the edge in stopping wildfires.
In response to the increasing demand for training services related to wildland fire simulation and aerial firefighting, two leading providers of these services, Becker Support Services and AFP (Anchor Flank & Pinch), a purveyor of ground and aerial firefighting training services, have formed a joint venture company, called Intellic Technologies, to provide state-of-the-art VR training programs that are designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of wildland fire operations to government agencies and allied organizations in various countries.
During the Pacific Northwest Wildfires Conference held in Seattle, Washington, the company introduced its FS3D aerial firefighting platform that uses custom VR experiences to provide virtual and in-the-field wildland fire training to government agencies, aerial and ground support companies, and US ally wildfire organizations around the world.
According to Trevor Maynard, the company’s chief technology officer, the partnership with AFP has been instrumental in the development of the company’s software, which is used by some of the largest organizations in the country in training wildland firefighters. The combined company’s offerings will allow them to provide the best possible training to their customers.
“We’ve been working together with AFP for several years in the development of our proprietary software, FS3D, and integrating it into training programs for some of the largest wildland firefighting organizations in the country,” said Trevor Maynard, chief technology officer at Intellic Technologies, in an official release. “This merger brings the best of all training options with immersive, virtual, and cost-effective experiences to reduce the risks of one of the most dangerous jobs today.”
The number of wildfires in the US increased significantly between the 2000s and 2010s. The median area burned by these types of fires in the western region also grew significantly, and according to a recent study conducted by Deloitte and the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Climate Innovation Lab, the wildfires that we see today are more destructive, bigger, and more frequent than they were a generation ago.
Current technology platforms do not provide adequate tools to analyze the multiple risks associated with wildfire exposure and vulnerability. They do not take into account the implications of future decisions regarding land management.
Intellic Technologies products and services include the FS3D visual wildfire simulator and AFP, which is the company’s training services division. Through the use of AR and VR technology, the platform allows users to experience an immersive and high-quality training environment.
However, despite the significant efforts being made to combat wildfires, the threat of this type of wildfire continues to increase. The US government has increased its funding for suppressing these types of fires, and new technologies other than VR solutions are also helping improve the response to wildfires.
For example, responders are using AI to map the movement of wildfires, which gives responders the advantage, and wildfires can even be spotted even before they start. For instance, the Kincade fire in California was detected 66 seconds following its ignition.
Unfortunately, despite the technological advancements that have been made in the fight against wildfires, many of these fires still outstrip the efforts of local agencies. For instance, in Colorado, the wildfire that started on December 30th grew to become a megafire, destroying over 1,000 homes in just 24 hours.
The increasing number of wildfires and the need for a comprehensive strategy to prevent them from happening are forcing government and private sectors to rethink how they respond to these types of fires. Instead of focusing on fighting them, they are considering a risk management approach that is similar to how communities have responded to floods.
Less than 10% of US communities have wildfire protection plans. Also, unlike with flood insurance, the risk-based premiums used in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coverage system are not designed to reflect actual losses caused by wildfires. This suggests that the management of wildfires is still in its early stages.
But this is where the work of Intellic Technologies fills the gap. We’ve seen how VR training can help individuals who work in stores, the medical field, and manufacturing, and the same technology can be used for natural disasters.
The team at Intellic is composed of some of the most experienced and respected fireline experts in the country. They are also dedicated to capturing, testing, sharing, and improving knowledge related to wildland fire simulation and training programs. This ensures that the company’s programs are of the highest quality and give trainee’s the necessary knowledge to fight wildfires and be safe. Technologies such as AR, VR and AI give responders the necessary knowledge to fight wildfires, be safe, and even be predictive about it.
According to Ryan Becker, the company’s CEO, the increasing threat of wildfires and the changing climate are forcing authorities to rethink how they manage their landscapes. Through effective fire management techniques and equipment, the company is helping to create better-controlled wilderness areas.
“We’re creating training services and software with the latest knowledge and strategies to provide the most effective aerial and ground training possible.”
The US Forest Service’s new wildfire plan, which is expected to be released in 2020, is focused on the use of resilience to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the country’s forest management. This concept is a framework that aims to help communities manage their risks by developing resilient systems. It can also help businesses and local authorities develop effective marketing and insurance strategies.
The use of resilience can also help develop new technologies that can help reduce the risks associated with wildfires. For instance, by analyzing the interactions between humans and wildfires, we can learn more about how these types of fires affect the development of communities. Currently, there is a lack of tools that can help analyze the multiple risks associated with wildfires.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis could have a significant impact on the recovery and preparation of communities affected by wildfires. For instance, during an active fire, emergency responders need to know how to effectively evacuate people. This process can be influenced by various factors such as road density, available routes, and the distance evacuees have to travel. Since fires can move so fast, the changes in these variables can affect the outcome of a situation.
Heat maps show the expected evacuation times for houses affected by the Marshall fire in Colorado in December 2021. If the evacuation had been conducted more efficiently, the outcome might have been different. With the help of AI, local officials can now use data to improve their operations and develop effective contingency plans.
Through the use of immersive technology and predictive AI tools, the National Flood Insurance Program can also help improve the awareness of households and builders about the risks they may face in case of a fire. For instance, by implementing data-driven flood insurance rate maps, communities can help identify individuals who are required to buy flood insurance.
As part of its efforts to inform homeowners about the risks they face, the NFIP has started to base insurance premiums on the likelihood of flooding at their properties. Through the use of data-driven modeling, builders and households can now better understand the multiple risks they face.
Wildfires’ effects are influenced by various factors such as political and economic factors, as well as societal dynamics. In order to effectively manage the risks associated with wildfires, it is important that policymakers take into account the varying starting points of these threats and their disadvantages for minority and low-income communities. Doing so could help comply with the government’s objective of addressing disproportionate risks to the environment and health of minorities and low-income individuals.
Despite the increasing threat of wildfires, we still need to improve our understanding of these risks and develop effective strategies to protect communities. This can be done through the use of immersive technology and analytic tools such as AR, VR, AI, and digital twinning to help communities prepare for the effects of wildfires and other natural disasters