First innovative firefighting technology contracts come to California
Published: September 23, 2019
Acquisition ReformCALIFORNIAContract AwardsFORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION, DEPARTMENT OF (CALIFORNIA)GovernorGOVERNOR, OFFICE OF THE (CALIFORNIA)Information TechnologyInformation TechnologyInnovationJustice and Public SafetyJustice/Public Safety & Homeland SecurityNatural Resources/EnvironmentPolicy and LegislationProcurement
A predictive modeling platform and an ignition detection system have been awarded in California under a new rapid procurement process.
On his first full day in office in January, California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented a new type of procurement, the request for innovative ideas (RFI2), in which the issuing agency lays out problems or questions, and asks vendors to solve them, rather than setting specific and narrow parameters to meet and follow. Last week, Gov. Newsom announced the award of two contracts for cutting-edge technologies to help combat the wildfires that have been plaguing the state for years. Under these contracts, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will test a modeling platform that predicts where active blazes spread and an ignition system that relies of aerial sensors.
The contract for the ignition system, being provided by Northrop Grumman, will deploy and use remote aerial sensors that send signals to local computer-aided dispatch systems when a fire breaks out. The goal of this is to create an alert system that responds as quickly as possible. The contract for the modeling platform is with Technosylva, a smaller firm that uses mapping technologies to provide wildfire analysis. It will create a platform that predicts the path of fires based on topography, current and forecasted weather, and vegetation. The hope with this is to help officials determine if and where areas need to be evacuated or where to deploy firefighting resources.
These technologies will bolster response to wildfires and assist firefighters and first responders, and ultimately save lives and property in the long run. Although the 2019 fire season has not been as severe as years past, it has kicked up more recently and there may possibly be more fires on the horizon.
Aside from these technologies themselves, it’s also worth noting the success of the RFI2 program. The process brought in state experts, vendors, entrepreneurs, and scientists working in a range of industries, and challenged them to come up with new, innovative technology solutions. This is the first of Gov. Newsom’s Innovation Procurement Sprints, which also will change the ways in which the state contracts with vendors. Interested vendors may see this as a useful case study as they plan for potential future business with California, especially if this procurement method is used further in the future.