Data Link

Data Link Project Overview

Many CoE projects and related technologies require data connectivity to fully function. This connectivity is often unavailable from commercial providers on wildland fires and other public safety incidents in Colorado due to terrain, vegetation, or distance from base stations. As a result, the CoE is conducting research into technologies that can extend an Internet connection or create a local data network in remote areas where Internet access is unavailable. This research includes both ground-based data networks and air-to-ground data links.

 Team Awareness Kit (TAK)

The CoE is working to provide map-based situational awareness to firefighters and other first responders when traditional Internet access is unavailable or unreliable. Much of the CoE’s work in this area has focused on the Team Awareness Kit (TAK). TAK is a geospatial mapping engine, originally developed for the Android operating system, that facilitates situational awareness, navigation, and data sharing. For more information, visit our TAK page.


Other completed work includes the following:

2020 Data Link Deployment Report

In 2020 the CoE upgraded the cache of data link equipment with pan-tilt-zoom cameras and additional radio and solar equipment. This equipment was deployed on the Grizzly Creek and Cameron Peak Wildfires in 2020 for a total of 75 days. Radios were deployed at four locations on the Grizzly Creek Fire to stream video from two locations, and extend internet connectivity for use by firefighters to one location. Fire managers on the Grizzly Creek Fire received logins allowing them to view the video feeds and steer the cameras as needed to monitor fire behavior.

The CoE deployed cameras at four different locations during the Cameron Peak Fire, and served the video streams to the public via YouTube Live. These feeds were intended to help inform evacuated citizens on the fire behavior near threatened communities. The public viewed these streams 219,981 times during the Cameron Peak Fire. 


Timelapse from camera at Windy Point deployed in support of the Grizzly Creek Fire, capturing some welcome snow in early September

Rapidly Deployable Data Network Report

In the summer of 2019 the CoE purchased off-the-shelf radio and video equipment from Ubiquiti Networks, and fabricated a rapidly deployable data network to extend Internet connectivity into remote areas and enable video surveillance of wildland fires and other emergencies. CoE staff tested a radio network composed of three nodes, two of them solar powered, over the course of several days and received positive results. Following the test deployment the CoE took the data network to Lake City for an operational deployment, to assist the Hinsdale County Sheriff's Office with the monitoring of an avalanche debris pile upstream of Lake City, Colorado. Over 70 days the CoE's data network provided two live video streams of the debris pile to the Sheriff's Office with zero downtime. The system transmitted approximately 2.5 terabytes of data over two solar-powered wireless hops. The system eased the need to physically check the debris piles for water buildup or other changes, and was described by the Sheriff as a significant time-saver. The CoE will continue to explore use cases for this technology and will conduct additional deployments on real and simulated public safety incidents. Read the report here: