How to Create an IT Disaster Plan to Prepare for California Wildfires

How To Create Your IT Disaster Plan to Prepare for California Wildfires - GeoLinks.com

How to Prepare Your IT for Wildfires in California

Wildfires in California are a serious concern for any business. They present both a danger to the people working at your organization and to your operations as a whole. Many businesses create plans for the former concern, which is, of course, the most important. However, the latter, continuing operations during and after a wildfire, can be overlooked, especially concerning IT. Below are some tips on creating an IT disaster plan for California wildfires.

1) Analyze Your Vulnerabilities

Consider how your information technology would be affected by a natural disaster. For example, do you have server hardware on-site in your main office? Do you rely on Internet connectivity to work? If you have IT resources outside of your headquarters, where are they located?

Understanding your vulnerabilities is essential to creating an IT disaster management plan. By thinking through what would happen if your physical location(s) were shut down, you can prepare your business for lasting operations during and after a wildfire.

Keep in mind that IT disaster planning doesn’t just revolve around safeguarding computers and data. More important are the essential personnel who help keep your IT infrastructure running. Hopefully, you already have a plan in place to ensure the safety of your staff. If you don’t, that should be your number one priority.

Once you have planned for your team’s safety, consider how they will resume work during and after the disaster. Will they need to connect remotely? If so, how will you enable them to do so?

2) Set Priorities

In the event of a disaster, there are scenarios that may prohibit your company from immediately resuming full operations. To determine what business elements are most important to get up and running again quickly, set and communicate priorities beforehand.

For example, perhaps the top priority is to get everyone connected to your network and each other again. Or it may be to ensure your proprietary data is both secured and accessible.

Understanding these priorities will help you to create your IT disaster prevention and disaster recovery plan. It will also help your team members to maintain clarity in the event that things don’t go exactly as planned. They can make decisions on the fly more easily when they have pre-determined goals.

3) Plan Redundancy

One of the most important elements of any IT disaster management plan is redundancy. IT resources can become unavailable in the event of a disaster. This can include hardware hosted at your place of business, overall network infrastructure, off-site resources, and more.

For example, if your business currently uses a terrestrial-based Internet connection, you may find yourself disconnected in the event an earthquake or wildfire damages nearby network infrastructure. Unfortunately, repairing damage can take a long time depending on the extent of the destruction. A great solution to avoid this vulnerability is to have two Internet circuits, a fiber optic connection (terrestrial) and a fixed wireless circuit (air), that issues automatic failover via a SD-WAN device in the event one experiences an outage. Having duel Internet circuits also ensures a business’s hosted VoIP connections remain active during a wildfire.

All in all, establishing IT redundancy ensures business continuity in the case of a wildfire or other natural disaster.

4) Plan for Data Continuity

No matter what business you are in, data is important. Perhaps your business is quite literally based on collecting and analyzing data. Perhaps you use customer information to make critical marketing decisions. Regardless of how you use the data, having access to critical business information is vital.

If you let it be a vulnerability, you may find your bottom line significantly impacted when a wildfire hits California.

Thus, cloud-based data back-ups are an absolute must for any business. If your business isn’t currently leveraging the cloud, it is time to get started. Additionally, you should have at least one back up drive located off-site. Issuing nightly backups of your key data is also strongly encouraged.

5) Evaluate Your Insurance

For many businesses, IT resources represent a significant investment. You need the proper insurance coverage to ensure that you can reestablish your operations promptly without risking your cash flow. This is especially true for California businesses given the state’s frequency of catastrophic events including wildfires and earthquakes.

Policies such as business interruption, loss of use, and extended coverage are worth significant considerations for any CA-based business. Insurance should be a component of every business’s IT disaster plan.

Getting Ready for the Next Wildfire

Whether you are ready or not, you may be affected by a wildfire in the very near future. It is best to have a plan in place so you’re prepared to handle the situation. Having a strong IT disaster management plan can make all the difference in the world.

Finding the right resources, such as GeoLinks’ GeoLit Bundle, will help you ensure your business continues operations even after a disaster.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com

5 Disaster Prevention Tips to Help California Businesses Better Prepare for Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can be both unpredictable and unavoidable. From loss of structure, habitat, property, and life, the associated damage can be unthinkable.

For businesses, natural disasters can prove detrimental in many different ways. From preventing staff from making it into work, to facility power loss halting operations, to IT crashes causing critical data loss, and much more, there really is only one all-encompassing way a business can endure a natural disaster – plan ahead.

With the state of California now experiencing a new year-round fire season, in addition to recently braving the two largest earthquakes to hit the state in twenty years, it’s more important than ever for companies to have a concrete disaster prevention plan.

Here are 5 disaster prevention tips that can help California businesses better prepare for natural disasters.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com - safety first

1. Plan Safety First

To protect your business, first protect your employees and clients. For any brick and mortar business, it’s essential that staff know how to physically respond during a disaster. From practicing evacuation routes, to knowing who to call for what emergency, to having life-saving supplies available on site, to knowing where backup generators or susceptible gas lines are located – the number one rule in disaster prevention planning should always be safety first.

While business owners may have these items personally available, it’s critical this information is both shared and available to any and all staff on site.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com - get insured

2. Get and Understand Your Insurance

When was the last time you looked thoroughly into your company’s insurance policy? Do you know what aspects of your business are covered in lieu of a natural disaster? Have you calculated if this coverage is even close to enough to keep your company afloat in the aftermath?

Investing in adequate insurance coverage is imperative in preparing for natural disasters. Aside from insuring your physical business property, with California’s frequency of catastrophic events, further researching business interruption, loss of use, and extended coverage packages are worth serious consideration.

Do you know how much downtime can cost your business? Learn more by checking out our “The Cost of Internet Downtime” Infographic.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com - communicate priorities

3. Communicate Business Critical Priorities

In the event of a disaster, does your team fully understand what your business-critical priorities are? Do you? For example, is your first priority to communicate with your customers? If you’re a liquor store, is it to save all your unbroken inventory? Perhaps a hotel places top priority on evacuating all staff and guests rather than securing cash drawers; do new employees know this?

Whatever a company’s priorities are, it’s crucial to have them not only documented but also communicated company-wide. Once priorities are established and well-known, businesses should create an associated action plan of how to clearly execute in a variety of natural disasters and emergency situations.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com - get redundant

4. Get Redundant

Most all businesses these days require some sort of access to both a power source and the Internet. Thus, what happens if a fire knocks out your building’s power and literally destroys your terrestrial fiber line? Can you still conduct business as usual? Well, if not prepared, the answer is likely no. In fact, it might take a while – even months – to get reconnected and operational depending on the damage. This unfavorable situation, however, is avoidable.

How? Get redundant – or in other words – have “backups on deck”. Get a power generator (or 2), and upgrade your internal network. A truly redundant Business network should integrate both air and ground technologies, such as a fixed wireless and fiber circuit. This prevents a single point of failure from potentially wiping out both circuits running through the same conduit. In the event of a full network outage, if you bundle in an SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide-Area Network) device, it can trigger backup failover automatically.

5 Disaster Prevention Tips for California Businesses - GeoLinks.com - protect your data

5. Protect Your Data

Natural disasters have the power to destroy office networks, online systems, hard drives, and really any physical source responsible for storing critical business information. Thus, tip number five – protect your data.

If able, back up data nightly to both dependable hard drives (at least one housed off site) and to the cloud. If your company hasn’t already began to migrate business records to the cloud, it’s time to get up – literally – and onramp. Learn more about Cloud On-ramping here.

Ultimately, it’s time for California business owners to shift from a disaster recovery to a disaster prevention mindset. Natural disasters will continue to be inevitable – whether your business survives and thrives, however, depends entirely on what you strategically plan and prepare for.

For further disaster prevention tips read: “Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity”.

To learn more about GeoLinks GeoLit Disaster Prevention Bundle, call and talk to one of the GeoLinks’ team members today!

 

 

 

Crowd Sourcing Wildfire Detection | Graham Kent | TEDx

Dr. Graham Kent, Director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, gave a TEDx talk in March discussing fire cameras, crowd sourcing wildfire detection, and the significant state-wide accomplishments that have derived from GeoLinks and ALERTWildfire’s ongoing collaboration.

Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit

Lessons Learned in San Diego – Panel at California’s First Ever Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit

Moderator:

Jessica Block, Assistant Director of WIFIRE Lab, Qualcomm Institute, UC San Diego

Panelists:

1. Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, GeoLinks

2. Tony Mecham, San Diego Unit Chief, CAL FIRE

3. Brian D’Agostino, Director of Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, SDG&E

4. Graham Kent, Director, Nevada Seismological Lab, University of Nevada-Reno

GeoLinks Installs 88 High-Tech Cameras in Southern and Northern California to Provide Critical Insight in High Risk Fire Areas

In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, UC San Diego, University of Nevada Reno, CENIC, SCE and PG&E, in three months GeoLinks has installed 88 cameras to improve confirmation and response efforts in combatting California wildfires.

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GeoLinks, a California-based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, has successfully installed and provided high speed, low latency, symmetrical data connections to 88 high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras throughout Southern and Northern California to provide critical situational awareness during wildfire events. In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, University of California San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, CENIC, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the multi-hazard camera technology provides data related to fire ignition points critical in informing situational awareness and wildfire response.

This state-of-the-art camera network, developed and managed by UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno, connects firefighting agencies with real-time imagery and environmental data enabling first responders to allocate and scale resources appropriately. Situated on GeoLinks’ vertical solar and wind-powered assets, the collected data is transmitted via GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network then handed off via a strategic partnership to CENIC’s private research and educational network to reach the universities, fire officials, utilities, and other users. This vital information allows involved parties to confirm ignition locations, verify 911 reports, image fire behavior, and ultimately deploy informed response and public warning.

“To give a little more context on GeoLinks involvement, we really dove head first in state disaster recovery efforts when hundreds of our clients, neighboring anchor institutions, and team members became displaced during the 2017 wildfires,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When vital communications towers were destroyed by the fast-moving wildfire, our team worked around the clock to restore critical connectivity throughout affected counties. The same responsiveness transpired during 2018’s wildfire season; this included providing the same-day installation of a high capacity circuit for key Red Cross shelters free of charge. I realized what a difference we could make in this space with our unique capabilities of building rural and urban networks in off-the-grid locations where these are needed. Our dedication, passion, agility, and unique capabilities in supporting disaster recovery, initiated our involvement with our university collaborators.”

State, private, public and first-responder support for the expansion of this camera system is persistent and irrefutable. “The safety of my firefighters and the communities they protect is my priority, so having more information about a fire before we encounter it is an added safety measure that benefits our first responders,” said former San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “Having access to a live view of our highest fire risk areas will greatly improve situational awareness and our coordination with CAL FIRE. In turn, that allows for quicker response times, better response strategies and faster evacuation orders to ensure our communities are better prepared in the face of a wildfire. During the ignition of the Church Fire, I could watch the smoke on my iPhone, the color, the direction, and immediately knew the resources that I needed to deploy and the time they would be engaged. Furthermore, the crews could watch how the fire progressed on their iPads as they approached the fire, real-time situational awareness — these fire cameras are a game changer.”

The 88 new cameras are located throughout high fire-risk areas throughout California. SCE and PG&E, along with public agencies and the general public, have access to the camera feeds around-the-clock through the www.alertwildfire.org website to monitor wildfire activity. Up to 160 cameras are expected to be installed by GeoLinks throughout SCE’s service area by 2020, which will allow approximately 90 percent coverage in high fire-risk areas. Similar efforts are underway at PG&E to cover their service area.

“I see this project as more of a mission than just a new line of business. None of this would be possible without the amazing work of Dr. Neal Driscoll of UC San Diego and Dr. Graham Kent of UNR who have been the pioneers of this work,” continued Ditchfield. “Our collaboration is now to super charge their founding efforts. Also, big kudos to the utilities for getting this underway; it truly shows their dedication to making a difference in future fire mitigation. The effects of this work will be nothing short of lifesaving.”

For media inquiries contact Lexie Smith, GeoLinks’ VP of Business Development, at [email protected].

About GeoLinks

GeoLinks, a Southern California based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, is recognized on both a state and national level for its unparalleled capabilities in supporting disaster recovery. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ innovative proprietary network, ClearFiber™, utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed spectrum, to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access to businesses and anchor institutions throughout California. With the unique ability to build solar and wind-powered redundant telecommunications facilities “off the grid,” GeoLinks is able to deploy broadband to remote and unserved communities in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. Consequently, the company is recognized as a leader in closing the digital divide and proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups, including: the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition; the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC); and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Recently the Company received the Christina Haska Distinguished Service Award from CENIC for GeoLinks’ pro-bono services providing critical data circuits to institutions during California’s recent natural disasters.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others at vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California. For more information, visit www.cenic.org.

CENIC Honors GeoLinks for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

CENIC Honors AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC NOC for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

 · RENS & NRENS

CENIC announces recipients of 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award

Read the full release here:https://cenic.org/news/item/cenic-honors-att-geolinks-and-cenic-noc

La Mirada, CA & Berkeley, CA — February 28, 2019 —  In recognition of their immediate and effective response to ensure emergency connectivity to communities and organizations affected by catastrophic wildfires, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC’s Network Operations Center are being recognized with CENIC’s 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community.

Project leaders being recognized are: Ryan Adams, GeoLinks; Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks; Rhonda Lutz, AT&T; Cheryl Santiel, AT&T; and Stanley Han, CENIC.

When wildfires struck, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC quickly engaged with affected communities to troubleshoot circuit failures, deploy equipment, repair network sites, and provide connectivity for essential emergency services. As a result, anchor institutions, which often serve as communication hubs for first responders and meeting places for area residents during a disaster, were able to maintain Internet connectivity. Evacuated residents were able to contact loved ones and let them know they were safe. People were able to send and receive critical emergency alerts, access email and the Internet, and get vital information immediately…..

…In nearby Oxnard, GeoLinks deployed free temporary microwave circuits to provide Internet access to the main library and two branch sites. Statewide, AT&T’s Network and Disaster Recovery team also deployed portable cell sites and recovery equipment. Meanwhile, CENIC offered to leverage its relationships with ISPs, provide temporary communications links, and donate decommissioned hardware.

“The commitment shown by these organizations and their talented staff was integral to providing critical Internet access that helped affected communities respond and recover during this catastrophic emergency,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “We thank them for their dedication to this important work at such a critical moment for these individuals and institutions.”

Established in 2018, the CENIC Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community and its partners. The award is named in honor of Dr. Christine Haska (1951-2017), a treasured member of the CENIC community with an exuberant personality, boundless energy, and wide-ranging interests. She brought foresight, grace, and an innovative spirit to all her work, and remains an inspiration to colleagues working in research and education institutions across the nation. Haska had a long career in higher education and in 2002 joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where she served as vice president of information resources and chief information officer. She played a vital role in establishing both NPS and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center as CENIC members. Retiring from NPS in 2013, Haska went on to successfully lead an initiative to connect the major health care institutions in Monterey to the CENIC network.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking. The CENIC conference will be held March 18 – 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register to attend.

Camarillo-based GeoLinks joins universities on wildfire project

Firefighters battle the Woolsey Fire as it burns a home in Malibu in this file photo. (Photo: AP PHOTO)

Original Article: https://www.vcstar.com/story/money/business/2018/12/06/camarillo-based-geolinks-joins-universities-wildfire-project/2212376002/

ALERTWildfire, a consortium of the University of Nevada Reno, UC San Diego and the University of Oregon has officially partnered with Camarillo-based telecom GeoLinks to deploy wildfire detection, prevention and situational awareness systems across California.

Demand for the expansion was inspired by a new wildfire camera pan-tilt-zoom technology developed by Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada Reno, that became instrumental in both the response and containment of the 2017 Lilac Fires in San Diego County.

GeoLinks plans to deploy 28 additional such cameras by year’s end.

“ALERTWildfire is excited to work with GeoLinks as their resilient communications network throughout California enables a rapid deployment of fire cameras in critical regions of the state,” said Kent. “No other service provider is able to scale to this urgent task.”

Located on GeoLinks’ vertical assets in Southern California including Ventura County, the cameras will send data over GeoLinks’ network to UC San Diego. There, WIFIRE, an integrated system for wildfire analysis, will analyze the data to create real-time simulations, wildfire path predictions and visualizations of wildfire behavior. The system ultimately will provide strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations and evacuation planning, GeoLinks said in a news release.

“The fact remains that California is now faced with wildfires year-round,” said Skyler Ditchfield, co-founder and CEO of GeoLinks. “Wildfire detection, prevention, and situational awareness systems provide a solution that could make an immediate, lasting, and radical impact on the spread of fires and associated costs, damages and casualties. … If we had assets installed prior to the Camp Fire’s ignition, for example, we could have saved countless lives. This is really the future and next step in advanced firefighting and suppression.”

How Supercomputers Can Help Fix Our Wildfire Problem – WIRED.com

Written by: 

FIRE IS CHAOS. Fire doesn’t care what it destroys or who it kills—it spreads without mercy, leaving total destruction in its wake, as California’s Camp and Woolsey fires proved so dramatically this month.

But fire is to a large degree predictable. It follows certain rules and prefers certain fuels and follows certain wind patterns. That means its moves with a complexity that scientists can pick apart little by little, thanks to lasers, fancy sensors, and some of the most powerful computers on the planet. We can’t end wildfires altogether, but by better understanding their dynamics, ideally we can stop a disaster like the destruction of Paradise from happening again.

You could argue that a wildfire is the most complicated natural disaster, because it’s both a product of atmospheric conditions—themselves extremely complex—and a manipulator of atmospheric conditions. So for instance, California’s recent fires were driven by hot, dry winds coming from the east. These winds dried out vegetation that was already dry due to lack of rainfall, fueling conflagrations that burn more intensely and move faster.

But wildfires also create their own weather patterns. Blazes produce hot air, which rises. “You can imagine that if something moves from the surface up, there must be some kind of horizontal movement of air filling the gap” near ground level, says Adam Kochanski, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah. Thus the fire sucks in surface winds.

Researchers are using supercomputers and lookout stations like this to model the dynamics of wildfires in real time. LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY

Wildfires don’t yet have the equivalent of a grand unified model to explain their behavior. The contributing factors are just so different, and work on such different scales—air dynamics for one, the aridity of local vegetation for another.

“That’s what’s really difficult from a modeling standpoint,” says Kochanski. You can’t hope to model a 50-square-mile wildfire with millimeter-scale resolution. So researchers like Kochanski simplify things. “We don’t really go into looking at how every single flame burns every single tree and how it progresses. No, we assume fuel is relatively uniform.”

Still, advances in computing are allowing researchers to crunch ever more data. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, atmospheric scientist Alexandra Jonko is using a supercomputer and a system called FIRETEC to model fires in extreme detail. It models, among other things, air density and temperature, as well as the properties of the grass or leaves in a particular area.

Jonko runs a bunch of simulations with different wind speeds, typically on the scale of 40 acres. “It’ll probably take me about four hours to simulate between 10 and 20 minutes of a fire spreading,” she says.

FIRETEC produces valuable physics-based data on fire dynamics to inform how fire managers do prescribed burns. This is pivotal for controlling vegetation that turns into fuel for fires. Wildfire agencies know generally the ideal conditions—low winds, for instance—but this type of modeling could help give even more granular insight.

FIRETEC’s modeling a portion of the 2011 Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos – LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY

To figure out where to do these burns, researchers are experimenting with lidar, the same kind of laser-spewing technology that helps self-driving cars find their way. This comes in the form of airborne lidar, which lets researchers visualize trees in 3D, supplemented with ground-based lidar, which details the vegetation underneath the trees.

That information is essential. “If we don’t know what the fuels are, then it’s a pretty big guess whether or not you’ve got dangerous fuels at a site,” says the University of Nevada, Reno’s Jonathan Greenberg.

The visualizations that come from lidar blasts are as stunning as they are useful. With this kind of data in hand, managers can more strategically deploy prescribed burns. California in particular has a serious problem with fire resources—in just the last year, the state has seen seven of its 20 most destructive fires ever. Money, then, goes to constantly fighting the infernos, leaving fewer resources for proactive measures like prescribed burns.

Another way to go about modeling fires is with reinforcement learning. You might have heard of researchers using this to get robots to learn—instead of explicitly showing a robot how to do something like putting a square peg in a square hole, you make it figure it out on its own with random movements. Essentially, you give it a digital reward when it gets closer to the correct manipulation, and a demerit when it screws up.

A model showing wind. The faster the wind, the longer and redder the arrows. LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY

Turns out you can do the same thing with virtual fire. “It’s kind of like Pavlov’s dog,” says computer scientist Mark Crowley of the University of Waterloo. “You give it a biscuit and it will do that trick again.”

Crowley begins with satellite thermal images that show how a wildfire has burned over an area. Think of this as the simulated fire’s “goal,” like a robot’s goal is to get the peg in the hole. This approach is still in its early days, and Crowley is busy helping his artificial flames learn the art of being fire. If it accurately mimics how a real fire ended up traveling, the algorithm gets a digital reward—if not, it gets a demerit. “Then over time you update this function so it learns how to travel properly,” Crowley adds. In a sense, he can create a digital fire infused with artificial intelligence.

Out in the field, researchers are using a supercomputer at UC San Diego to confront the immediate threat of wildfires, with a program called ALERTWildfire. On mountaintops across California, lookout stations are loaded with sensors like high-def cameras and wind and moisture detectors. If the camera catches a fire breaking out, the system can pipe that atmospheric data to the supercomputer, which does real-time modeling of the blaze for fire agencies.

A terrestrial laser scanner image of a forest after a fire. UNR/USFS RSL/USFS FBAT/UMD/UE

“They can see where the fire is going, what it’s going to look like in the near term and long term, and then continue to receive live updates,” says Skyler Ditchfield, co-founder and CEO of GeoLinks, a telecom that’s partnered with the project.

Why a supercomputer? “The magic word here is fast,” says Ilkay Altintas, chief data science officer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Wind-driven fires move quickly, and the bigger a fire gets, the more data it produces. “The computational complexity can depend on how big the fire is, how complicated the topography is, how the weather is behaving.”

As the detection network grows—85 cameras are deployed right now, but the researchers hope to expand to over 1,000 across California—so too does the torrent of data. Also, at the moment, human eyes have to watch the camera feeds to detect fires, though the idea is to get AI to do that in the future.

Tech won’t solve all our wildfire problems—we need to band together to reinforce our cities, for instance. But with ever more data and computing power, and ever better models, we can get better at confronting the wildfire menace. Fire is chaos, but it’s not impossible to understand.

ALERTWildfire Collaborates With GeoLinks to Deploy Fire Detection and Prevention Systems Across California

ALERTWildfire Partners With GeoLinks to Deploy Fire Detection and Prevention Systems Across California

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ALERTWildfire, a consortium of three universities — The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the University of Oregon (UO) — announced today it has officially partnered with California-based Telecom, GeoLinks, to deploy Wildfire Detection, Prevention, and Situational Awareness Systems across the state of California. With ample endorsement from the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California’s new Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, and a multitude of utilities and state counties, the project demonstrates the future and next step in advanced firefighting and suppression.

Demand for the rapid system expansion was inspired by a new wildfire camera pan-tilt-zoom technology (PTZ), developed by Graham Kent, Director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno, that became instrumental in both the response and containment of the 2017 Lilac Fires in San Diego County. GeoLinks plans to deploy 28 additional PTZs by year’s end.

“ALERTWildfire is excited to work with GeoLinks as their resilient communications network throughout California enables a rapid deployment of fire cameras in critical regions of the state,” said Kent. “No other service provider is able to scale to this urgent task, and we look forward to dozens of cameras to be installed month-after-month as we ready ourselves for December 2018 and fire season 2019.”

Collocated across GeoLinks’ vertical assets in greater LA-Metro, Orange County, Riverside County, and Ventura County, the data collected from the PTZ cameras will be backhauled over GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network to WIFIRE at the San Diego Supercomputer Center in UC San Diego. WIFIRE, an integrated system for wildfire analysis, analyzes data collected from these cameras to create real-time simulations, wildfire path predictions, and visualizations of wildfire behavior. Ultimately, the system will provide strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations, and evacuation planning.

UC San Diego has already identified the next wave of key sites for GeoLinks to connect post initial project completion. Skyler Ditchfield, co-founder and CEO of GeoLinks, notes that with the comprehensive coverage of fixed wireless broadband that will accompany the camera network, LTE-based data connectivity and the extension of all first responder handheld radio systems can be efficiently added to close all connectivity gaps.

“The fact remains that California is now faced with wildfires year-round,” stated Ditchfield. “Wildfire detection, prevention, and situational awareness systems provide a solution that could make an immediate, lasting, and radical impact on the spread of fires and associated costs, damages, and casualties. GeoLinks, ALERTWildfire, and a variety of other affiliates across the state, including CENIC, are actively pushing the state-wide expansion of these technologies. If we had assets installed prior to the Camp Fire’s ignition, for example, we could have saved countless lives. This is really the future and next step in advanced firefighting and suppression.”

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Smith at [email protected].

About ALERTWildfire

ALERTWildfire is a consortium of three universities — The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the University of Oregon (UO) — providing access to state-of-the-art Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders: (1) discover/locate/confirm fire ignition, (2) quickly scale fire resources up or down appropriately, (3) monitor fire behavior through containment, (4) during firestorms, help evacuations through enhanced situational awareness, and (5) ensure contained fires are monitored appropriately through their demise.

About GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked first in category on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America in both 2017 and 2018, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity

what is a disaster recovery plan - geolinks

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the most essential parts of running a successful business. Just like business liability insurance, disaster recovery planning for your network ensures ongoing business continuity. Whether your disaster recovery plan is for site mirroring, load balancing or just staying online, it is the responsible thing to do for all business owners, CIOs, and IT managers.

This month, California witnessed one of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history – the Camp Fire. Located in the city of Paradise, California, this tragic disaster resulted in massive loss of life, structure, property, infrastructure, and habitat. Southern California also experienced two  horrific wildfires, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire. These fires tore through both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, taking down just near everything in their paths. Cities near the burn areas, while not officially evacuated, experienced county-wide network outages. That said, businesses with a disaster recovery plan have proven resilient. So, what exactly is a disaster recovery plan?

What is A Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster recovery planning entails outlining how to recover your business operations during or after a disaster. No business is immune to disaster, so having a plan in place protects your business from large financial losses, and in extreme cases, bankruptcy. While it may appear to be a daunting task, business owners will be happy they had one ready for when disaster strikes. So how do you go about planning for a disaster? First, it’s worth exploring Business Interruption insurance, this coverage insures the revenue losses a business might suffer in the case of a disaster. Next, consider following this quick checklist provided by Q Finance: The Ultimate Resource:

  • Business Impact Analysis:

    1. This is where you identify what parts of the business will be most impacted by a disaster.
    2. Calculate how much this will cost you if you lost them in a disaster for a day, a week, and two weeks.
    3. Next, identify the maximum threshold your business can tolerate before being threatened with closure.
    4. List the minimum activities required to deliver identified parts of the business.
    5. Make sure adequate resources are available to provide those activities.
  • Risk Assessment Analysis:

    1. Identify what the risks are to the organization, such as loss of staff, suppliers, IT systems, and telecommunications.
    2. List plans already in place to deal with each risk.
    3. List plans that need to be put in place to deal with each risk.
    4. Assign a “likelihood to occur” score or probability to each risk.
  • Decide on what action to take for each identified risk:

    1. Deal with a risk by planning to operate at a minimum level.
    2. Tolerate the risk if the cost of reducing operations outweighs the benefits.
    3. Transfer the risk to a third party or take out insurance.
    4. Shut down / terminate the activity.
  • Write then share the plan(s):

    1. Start by writing a general plan, then decide if you need more detailed plans within that one.
    2. Write a scope and purpose for each plan.
    3. Identify the resources and contacts that own each plan and are responsible for it.
    4. List their contact details.
    5. List tasks, processes, and procedures used to respond to an incident.
    6. For business continuity, list the identified critical activities, how to recover them, and the timeline involved.
  • Test, update, and maintain plans:

    1. Plans must be tested. That is the only way to ensure that the plan can work in the real world as well as it works on paper.
    2. Involve staff and have them go through the plan and recommend improvements.

Telecommunications and Disaster Recovery Planning

The modern world has become extremely interconnected, especially now with online transactions largely taking over physical transactions. With most business activities occurring over a telecommunications network, companies depend on the reliability of their Internet connections now more than ever for business continuity. Not having a backup Internet connection, or one that guarantees uptime and redundancy, can cause major financial losses.

For example, if a brick and mortar store or restaurant loses their Internet connection, their POS System will crash. If a businesses POS system is out of order, they will be unable to charge customers for products and services. A major disaster might mean your business is delayed or completely halted for days or weeks at a time. This is, if a proper plan is not in place.

What if you are an e-commerce company? If you lose your Internet connection you will not have access to the online orders customers are placing. Delaying processing orders will delay shipping orders, which will result in upset customers and a domino effect that is sure to affect your ability to gain new customers.

At a minimum, organizations should have a disaster recovery plan for their telecommunications infrastructure. There are several ways telecommunications companies can guarantee uptime. GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network, for example, offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99.999% uptime. To achieve 100% uptime, businesses are able to bundle in technologies such as LTE failover.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Business Continuity

LTE became a reality in 2010, and it was a big deal for the telecommunications industry. It provided much-needed low-latency, high-speed, reliability and power efficiency to wireless networks. LTE networks are leaps and bounds better than their 2G/3G predecessors.

LTE is the reason why we can have a gig economy with Uber, Lyft, and delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. It is also a wireless equivalent to a physical line. A well-designed network utilizes various types of technologies that can be depended on during different situations. For example, GeoLinks’ dedicated fixed wireless network, ClearFiber™, is connected to a fiber-optic backbone, and has the ability to failover to a LTE connection. Switching over to LTE is not like switching over to traditional mobile networks. Its low latency and fast speeds provide you with uninterrupted service, especially in times of disaster.

GeoLinks is proud to report our network has remained connected during California’s catastrophic fires. In fact, we are honored to be servicing CAL FIRE and Red Cross Evacuation Centers across Ventura County. If there is one thing California businesses should take away from the new year-round fire season, it’s that you must have a disaster recovery plan in place. At the bare minimum, have a plan for your telecommunications infrastructure and how to connect to the Internet.

To learn more about GeoLinks Disaster Recovery Solutions, call and talk to one of the GeoLinks’ team members today! (888) 225-1571