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Resource Tracking and Total Team Awareness in Wildland Fires by Staff Editor

Wildfire response now requires resource tracking technology per the John D. Dingell, Jr. conservation, management, and recreation act, 2019-2020.

SEC. 1114. <> Wildfire Technology Modernization: 
(d)(2A) Location systems for Wildland Firefighters shall—use the most practical and effective technology available to the Secretaries to remotely track the location of an active resource, such as a Global Positioning System;

Wildland fires are a dynamic and unpredictable challenge for firefighters, spanning great distances, varied terrain, rapidly changing and deteriorating conditions, combined with diverse teams fighting on multiple fronts to control and contain fires. Being on time and in position can make the difference in losing thousands of acres, homes, and neighborhoods. 

The John D. Dingell Jr. conservation, management and recreation act signed into law in 2019 requires that emergency response organizations use technology to track fire resources. The goal of this legislation is to ultimately minimize exposure to risk and overall cost—both human and financial—but requires tools and systems that provide situational awareness through mapping.

Firefighters in wildland settings face similar challenges to our military: large and small teams, working together or independently, all needing the ability to act at a moment’s notice to coordinate efforts for mission success. Rallying teams to converge on an area needing more manpower or working to locate an unresponsive teammate are only some of the challenges faced today. These are exacerbated when it takes multiple systems, networks, subscriptions, and apps for success to locate, transmit location data, enter data into a GPS or mapping application, and navigate using GPS, radio, satcom, and other tools to find your teammates. When seconds count, the compound interaction of multiple devices, networks, subscriptions, and tools can slow you down.

Lynq PRO™ blends GPS data with long-range, low-power radio frequency communications in a standalone, weatherproof, water-resistant, military tested solution that works out of the box—no subscription, cellular, satcom, or wifi networks needed. Meaning both firefighters’ and asset positions are tracked continuously and available to their teammates and command continuously. Lynq PRO allows them to message and share their location, waypoints, and objectives quickly and easily with individuals or teams. Paired with an TAK capable device, advanced mapping and location data allows command to view their deployed teams and assets throughout the area, tracking movements and coordinating efforts in timely and effective teamwork.

The Forest Service and Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA) recognized the need for better tracking and management of resources assigned to wildfires and created Dingell Act Resource Tracking (DART) requirements. DART stipulates all resources must be remotely tracked and displayed in real-time in mapping environment. Lynq PRO not only provides location data to command, but shares that location data, allows for messaging, and provides the means and tools to locate, navigate, and coordinate in the dynamic wildfire environment as a standalone solution. If command is located outside of the Lynq PRO's preconfigured network range for a given deployment the system can be paired to an ancillary backhaul comms system (cellular, RF, SATCOM) even if only tethered to one Lynq PRO or EUD running TAK.

Configuring Lynq PRO for wildfires is easily managed via OTTO Lynq PRO Rapid Deployment Kits. A compact and ruggedized network management solution that includes pre-configurable, or on-the-ground mission planning capabilities. Team planners can set checkpoints and markers for all of the devices before checkout/briefing. With up to 12 available devices, command can quickly deploy multiple Lynq PRO units to track and communicate with their firefighters in real time, even connecting with their TAK devices for enhanced map capabilities. 

The lack of wireless service in remote locations creates challenges for fire managers trying to gather and share timely information about wildfires and personnel. You can't predict whether wildland fires will occur on- or off-grid, so having location and communication systems that can respond (and perform) independently from cellular and satellite subscription services are an absolute necessity for readiness. 

The flexibility and configurability of Lynq PRO offer solutions to scenarios no other single system currently offers.

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