The Frisco (Texas) Fire Department in Texas is now able to transmit live video from a fire or other incident back to the city Frisco's Emergency Operations Center with a comprehensive view of unfolding emergencies.
Streambox brings live video to the Frisco Emergency Operations Center.
The FFD had relied solely upon radio transmissions from firefighters at the scene to understand the specifics of an incident. Then a couple of years ago, employees from a local TV station suggested FFD look into streaming video as a means to gain better intelligence about developing emergencies.
Using Streambox ACT-L3 video transport systems deployed onboard its emergency response vehicles, the department quickly realized Streambox would be an invaluable tool for providing a bird's-eye view of emergencies and for helping multiple city departments coordinate resources.
"Now our EOC staff can proactively deliver the required response based on what they see, rather than having to wait for someone to describe the scene to them," said Mack Borchardt, FFD fire chief. "Judging from our success with streaming video I believe the technology holds great potential for other fire departments across the country."
The FFD has equipped its special operations and haz-mat vehicles with mast-mounted cameras and Streambox SBT3-7100 systems, which encode the video for transmission over low-data- rate Verizon 3G wireless connections. Streambox decoders play out the video, including thermal and infrared imaging, to command at the scene and back to the central fire station's Emergency Operations Center.
The Streambox solution is particularly valuable for incidents requiring a coordinated response from multiple city departments. Recently a natural gas line ruptured near a main thoroughfare, creating a hazard for traffic and the surrounding area. With a view of the scene from the haz-mat vehicle, the EOC was able to see the full extent of the hazard and quickly coordinate a response with police and traffic control personnel. Subsequently, rush-hour traffic was safely and efficiently re-routed.
The FFD plans to deploy more encoders/decoders on a new command vehicle that will arrive at the department in late August.
The new truck will provide an on-site command center and will be capable of streaming video simultaneously to the EOC and to either the haz-mat or special operations trucks.
"It was crucial for us to deploy a reliable and easy-to-use streaming solution so our firefighters can turn their full attention to the emergency at hand," said Paul Siebert, assistant chief of the FFD. "With Streambox we are able to get set up and start transmitting video in a matter of minutes—and every minute counts in an emergency."
Frisco is a growing city of 102,000 north of Dallas.