University Pairs Towers, Cameras to Track Wildfires


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Tower climbers in Oregon are installing new wildfire spotting cameras that will help “scientists, emergency responders, and government agencies detect and monitor wildfires and other hazards,” reported Around the O. The cameras are courtesy of the Oregon Hazards Lab (OHAZ), led by University of Oregon professor Doug Toomey. OHAZ is part of a multi-school consortium called ALERTWildfire. 

The group is placing cameras across the Western United States in rural areas with “spotty to nonexistent” service, with 32 already in Oregon. Climbers mount microwave dishes and other infrastructure on the towers to transmit data to the home base, reported Around the O

In the short term, the network will share time-sensitive information about wildfires and other natural disasters between towers. Eventually, the network will assist scientists with monitoring environmental changes. 

“OHAZ is developing the most advanced all-hazards, environmental, and ecosystem observing platform in the United States for convergent scientific research that contributes to a more disaster-resilient society,” Toomey said. “Every tower we include in our growing communications and monitoring network is vital to that vision.”

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