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US Forest Service Deploys the Avenza PDF Maps App for Fire-Fighting

Date: 2015-11-02
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PDF Maps app to aid firefighting and emergency response efforts

A San Juan interagency hotshot crew member refers to a map on his iPad as he coordinates execution of their burnout operation. Photo: Esther Godson

The United States Forest Service (USFS) fights wildfires and other natural disasters in more than 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, totaling an estimated 193 million acres or 30% of all federally-managed lands. The USFS Geospatial Management Office (GMO) is responsible for the implementation of the Forest Service geospatial program which includes using technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, cartography, geodesy, and global positioning systems (GPS).

 Right: Aerial Retardant Avoidance: Mobile maps help air-tanker pilots avoid the mapped yellow areas, where application of aerial fire retardant is restricted.  Photo: Max Wahlberg

Every year thousands of acres of forests are engulfed in fires. Recognizing the benefits of geospatial technology, the USFS GMO has included Avenza System Inc.’s award-winning PDF Maps mobile app in order to deliver interactive digital maps to fire fighters and emergency response teams situated in forests across the United States and its territories.
 
With increased use of digital solutions, the USFS benefits from Avenza’s PDF Maps app geospatial technology in enabling its thousands of fire-fighters and support personnel. The PDF Maps app aids emergency response teams who use digital devices for work in the field. The PDF Maps app provides constant access to geographic information and points of interest, with additional interactive features such as measuring, place marking and location tagging. Avenza’s PDF Maps app operates without the risk of lost reception due to cell tower proximity and does not rely on an internet connection to use map data. It uses GPS to obtain and display an accurate position on the ground regardless of network connectivity.

“Accessing maps on mobile devices ensure responders have accurate and current geographic information while they’re out in the field,” said Carl Zulick, Geospatial Information Officer, USFS.

Left: The centered blue GPS position on an operations map pinpoints the user’s location.  Photo: Carl Beyerhelm

“Avenza’s PDF Maps app makes it possible for teams to use any map digitally without requiring a data connection while involved in an emergency situation," said Zulick. "Since the maps are location-aware and interactive, we can capture real-time data, photos, and locations. This data can be shared to assess the situation and make necessary strategic changes and improve situational awareness.”

The PDF Maps app is available now on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store free of charge for personal recreational use. A Windows version is currently in public beta release. Commercial, government and academic use licensing is available for a nominal annual fee.

For more information about PDF Maps, visit the Avenza website at www.avenza.com or the PDF Maps website at www.pdf-maps.com.  Pricing of each map is set by the publisher and free maps remain free to users through the PDF Maps app in-app store. Commercial use licensing starts at US$49 per year and drops on a per-device basis as deployment numbers increase.

Below: A hardcopy map is compared to its digital counterpart cached on a smartphone.  Photo: Kari Greer

 

- Corporate News/9-1-1magazine.com (via Avenza, 10/27/15)

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