BAE Systems’ geospatial software helps students assess and predict wildfire risk

BAE Systems technology helps students predict forest fires
BAE Systems technology helps students predict forest fires Photo courtesy Eaglecrest High School

When searching for a virtual community service project, students at Eaglecrest High School in the Cherry Creek School District became concerned about unhealthy vegetation and drought conditions in their home state of Colorado. With the help of BAE Systems’ Geospatial eXploitation Products™ team, the students completed a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) project using SOCET GXP® software that assesses and predicts the likelihood of wildfires in the forested and mountainous areas of Grand County. The students have shared their report with government agencies in the state, with the hope that it will help prevent future devastations and raise awareness of potential risks in vulnerable regions.

SOCET GXP uses satellite and aerial imagery to identify and analyze features on the ground. Image analysis, advanced photogrammetric techniques, remote sensing, and observation workflows are seamlessly combined in the geospatial intelligence software. These capabilities enhance maps; inform natural resource, utilities, and communications stakeholders; support first responders; coordinate regional operations; and build geospatial-intelligence reports.

Working with their advisor and BAE Systems engineers, Eaglecrest’s Science National Honor Society (SNHS) students leveraged SOCET GXP as an imagery analysis tool. They used it to deploy combinations of visible and near-infrared bands to gauge vegetation health. To calculate the percent of unhealthy vegetation in the project area, they correlated area measurements and geographic location in a single data table. The students could then export the data into other software tools for visual comparative analyses and assess trends in the data produced.

“This easy-to-use tool enabled us to analyze how much of the area was at risk and where the vegetation was less healthy,” said Caiden Kesler, a senior at Eaglecrest High School.

“Students learned to obtain, manage, assess, and apply scientific data using the various tools and windows within the SOCET GXP framework,” said Kathryn de Venecia, SNHS advisor.

Their findings were significant, showing extreme drought conditions, along with substantial tree loss from infestation and disease. These conditions continue to threaten forested areas to the east and south of two locations in Grand County following fires in 2020.

As wildfires continue to plague the western United States, tools like SOCET GXP can bolster the prediction and prevention of such destruction, leading to better environmental outcomes and the preservation of habitats and property.