California Gov Gavin Newsom meets with emergency responders at the State Operations Center in Colfax, Calif., on Jan. 8, 2019. (Governor’s office photo)

California Awards First Contracts in Wildfire Innovation Sprint

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the selection of the first two contracts for the Wildfire Innovation Sprint, which were the result of an executive order signed by the Governor on his first full day in office on January 8, 2019. Under the executive order, the Newsom Administration issued a Request for Innovative Ideas to modernize the way the state contracts for acquisition and development of technology systems, with the goal of getting cutting-edge firefighting technology in the hands of emergency responders by next fire season.

“This new procurement process leverages one of the things California does best, which is embracing innovation and technology to address some of the most unprecedented challenges California is facing,” said Governor Newsom. “The use of innovative and groundbreaking technology to bolster response to wildfires will help our firefighters and first responders tremendously, and if we can predict the patterns of a fire, we will be able to save lives and property.”

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the California Department of Technology and the Department of General Services collaborated with experts and government leaders to develop a problem statement to address wildfire management, focusing on detection, prediction and notification. Out of 131 proposals, two innovators were selected to conduct what is known as a “Proof of Concept,” which is a working model that will be initially tested on a small scale in the field. Ten additional applicants were invited to become part of an innovator pool for future consideration.

The first two contracts were awarded to Technosylva Inc. and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation.

  • Technosylva will receive $383,000 to develop a prototype that predicts the path of a wildfire in real-time using an advanced cloud-based modeling subscription service and considers the vegetation, current and predicted weather, and topography. It is the goal that this Proof of Concept will help decision makers determine the probable path of fire spread to allow for early notifications to emergency decision makers for purposes of emergency notifications, evacuations, and public updates. In addition, decision makers can consider potential fire spread to order and place additional emergency response resources. This project will encompass four primary locations, including Monterey, Butte, San Luis Obispo and Napa counties. Oversight locations will be based in Redding and Riverside.
  • Northrop Grumman’s contract for $1.6 million will entail the creation of an early wildfire ignition detection system based on remote sensors in the sky that interfaces directly with local computer aided dispatch systems, so appropriate resources can be dispatched in real-time. The goal of the Proof of Concept is to obtain new wildfire detections as quickly, if not quicker, than a 9-1-1 caller reporting a new emergency. This project also covers the same four primary locations of Monterey, Butte, San Luis Obispo, and Napa counties, and will have the potential to expand to a total of 23 locations statewide.

Both contracts run through December 31, 2019. At that time, CAL FIRE will determine if the projects will be amplified statewide.

Read more at the California governor’s office

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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