Mobile Lab Drives New Era in Real-Time Fire Weather Forecasting
STEM education and mobile technology combine for real-time data collection in fire weather forecasting.
August 26 , 2013
There's a new tool for fire weather research, and it comes in the form of a tricked out Ford truck called the "CSU-MAPS," which stands for California State University-Mobile Atmospheric Profiling System. The truck, assembled by the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Jose State University, is the first of its kind in the country. The vehicle is equipped with wifi, and allows researchers to upload real-time data from the truck's weather instruments to a webserver on the campus. The group is on call to assist The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Transcript: "Only 20 years ago surface weather observations were taken manually, that has been completely eliminated. Now, all the data is digital. I'm Craig Clements, and I'm an associate professor at San Jose State University. I'm the director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory there. This is the CSU-MAPS. It is an atmospheric facility for research and teaching. What makes the CSU-MAPS so unique is that it is a set of instruments, mounted on a truck so it's highly mobile and can go to remote regions. It's the only system capable to do that in the U.S. The advantage of having this system on site of the fire is that it provides the data in real time and particularly wind profiles and temperature profiles of the atmosphere. For a fire meteorologist having faster or higher data rate is critical. Since we tested the system on multiple research experiments, we know how it performs in a wildland fire environment. Our IPAD is actually displaying the real time data from the weather station. My name is Jon Contezac and I am a Research Assistant at San Jose State University. I helped build this truck. We have so much capability on it. We have three different laptops for all these instruments because it takes so much power to run on. The instruments actually have their own operating system. What I do is I connect to those operating systems with these laptops and just run the software right from these devices. This technology being at a university provides a STEM framework for our students and gives them a hands-on experience in science and technology. We could not have done this setup five years ago because the technology was not available in such a small format. The use of a tablet or iPad to display data and access data through the web and to upload our data through the web would not be available previously in the last five/ten years. Every time we see firefighters, they are really excited to see these things. It is just so unique. I am pretty sure they wish they had their own system installed on their fire engines and trucks."