GIS for the hawaian firefighters

In deadly Maui fires, many had no warning and no way out. Those who dodged a barricade survived (

Hawaii, a state made up of beautiful islands, is unfortunately vulnerable to forest fires, particularly during the dry seasons, but also due to electrical accidents, as was the case last September. Hawaii’s firefighters face unique challenges in protecting nature and communities from the ravages of wildfire. Geomatics, a discipline that combines geography, computer science and information technology, plays a crucial role in their relentless fight to prevent, manage and extinguish forest fires

The first step in the fight against forest fires is prevention. Geomatics enables firefighters to map high-risk areas using geographic information systems (GIS). They can identify high-risk areas based on factors such as dense vegetation, climate, road access and population density. This enables firefighters to implement preventive measures, such as creating strategic firebreaks and introducing stricter regulations to reduce risk.

Example of Fire response (Division of Forestry and Wildlife: Forestry Program)

Once a forest fire breaks out, geomatics becomes an invaluable asset for its management. Satellite data and drones are used to monitor the spread of flames in real time, and to assess which areas are most affected. Aerial images give field teams a better understanding of topography, wind direction and other factors crucial to decision-making. Maps updated in real time help firefighters to better coordinate their actions and evacuate populations at risk.

When firefighters go into action, they are equipped with GPS devices to move efficiently in environments that are sometimes difficult to access. Precise geolocation enables teams to be tracked in the field, ensuring their safety and improving overall coordination.
Finally, geomatics is essential for assessing post-fire damage. Satellite images can help determine the extent of damage, plan reforestation and monitor areas recovering naturally.

The use of geomatics has revolutionized the way firefighters in Hawaii fight forest fires. Thanks to this technology, they are better prepared to prevent fires, react quickly in the event of an outbreak and effectively manage emergency situations. However, it is important to note that ongoing training of personnel is required to maximize the benefits of these technological tools. Ultimately, geomatics helps to save lives, protect Hawaii’s exquisite nature and preserve the beauty of these islands for future generations.

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