Ranger District Proof-of-Concept


Current geographic information system (GIS) software provides extensive capabilities that are principally geared toward professional GIS analysts. Most field users have limited abilities to take advantage of advanced GIS tools and could be better served for most applications through use of virtual globe (VG) technology. VG technology vendors provide access to a large body of geographical information (cities, roads, imagery and various points of interest) that is captured and maintained by others. This provides vast amounts of information, at low cost and great benefit (given that FS will not have to pay for collection, processing and updating of vast amounts of critical data).
To evaluate the options and potential for using VG technology within the Forest Service (FS), Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) executed a Google Earth Pilot project in FY 2007 to investigate the capabilities, requirements, costs and benefits of a VG for enhancing tactical intelligence and decision making within the interagency firefighting community.


  • Provides a complete 3D view of the operational area and all resources and assets
  • Allows use of high quality internal imagery
  • Real-time analysis of information
  • Secure environment for sensitive data
  • Integrated with existing predictive modeling systems
  • ESRI compatible
  • Leveraging a vast number of third party data sources and applications


An analysis of the number of licenses and group rates is being conducted
Potential production hosting environment locations need to be evaluated for HW disk space, server certification and accreditation, new purchases and funding for those purchases, and other hosting issues:

  • Fire and weather data grouped by historic, current and forecast has been implemented
  • MODIS and IR overlay feeds have been developed
  • One meter resolution imagery is available for the western US
  • WFDSS may have relevant data feeds in the next few months
  • e-Authentication is being implemented for user authentication
  • Dispatchers workshops were used to provide GE training and briefing materials
  • NIMO users have been briefed
  • Official training tutorials are almost complete for potential GE users