Exalt Communications announced that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has deployed its microwave backhaul systems to support video surveillance for unstaffed lookout towers in El Dorado County. This unique application, the largest of its kind in the United States, allows CAL FIRE dispatchers in the Camino Interagency Command Center (ECC) to gather additional information quickly and dispatch appropriate resources.

State of California budget reductions over the years has reduced the number of staffed lookout towers for CAL FIRE. As a result, CAL FIRE has had to adapt and rely on fire information from 911 calls and unfortunately, 911 callers are not always accurate in their descriptions of fires. To expand its options, CAL FIRE applied for a grant and solicited competitive bids for a system that uses tower-mounted high definition video cameras and microwave wireless links to monitor wildland fire activity.

“The camera system allows the Emergency Command Center to gather additional information when dispatching resources to a wildland fire,” said Justin Sanders, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief in the Emergency Command Center.

Exalt partner Vicom Wireless of Sacramento, California, won the project and deployed Exalt all-outdoor microwave backhaul systems configured for the 5.8 GHz frequency band. These systems provide 200 megabits-per-second (Mbps) Ethernet capacity over distances of up to 26 miles. The video surveillance system currently features tower-mounted cameras covering El Dorado County, and it will be expanded to include additional surveillance locations over time.

The Exalt systems provide 99.999 percent link availability to ensure that video information is available at all times. The deployment also uses Exalt’s asymmetric traffic control which enabled Vicom to configure the Exalt systems to transport 80 percent of the 200 Mbps of aggregate capacity in one direction – from the cameras back to the command center.

“Flexibility and performance are the keys to pioneering new applications like this one for CAL FIRE, and Exalt offers the largest and most diverse portfolio of high-performance microwave radio systems on the market,” said Amir Zoufonoun, President and CEO of Exalt Communications. “Only Exalt allows our customers to choose from a full range of microwave systems in any frequency band and any configuration with the assurance that whichever product they choose, they will get best-in class performance, reliability, security and value.”