FLASH: Digital Tool Improves Situational Awareness for Firefighters

DARPA's Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program provides warfighters with advanced digital tools for situational awareness and targeting in place of legacy communications systems. DARPA recently collaborated with firefighters to test the potential value of PCAS technology. Called Fire Line Advanced Situational Awareness for Handhelds (FLASH), the prototype system includes tablet computers, aircraft-mounted sensors, and Mobile Ad Hoc Networking (MANET) radio technology designed to identify the location of every firefighter and firefighting aircraft in expansive fire zones. The system overlays multiple streams of information from airborne sensors, firefighters, and fire command posts onto a shared digital map visible via tablet computers. The FLASH software supports standard firefighter and first-responder icons for sharing real-time situational awareness updates about local conditions and the location and status of colleagues and available resources.