The Florida Forest Service (FFS) consists of more than 1,250 dedicated employees with the mission to protect and manage the forest resources of Florida, ensuring that they are available for future generations.
Wildfire prevention and suppression are key components in FFS efforts to protect homeowners from the threat of damage in a natural, fire-dependent environment. The mission of the Forest Protection Bureau is to provide a level of fire management that reduces threats to life and property, forests, and other related at-risk wildland resources, while promoting natural resource management through the use of prescribed fire.
FFS had a fully customized, sophisticated Fire Management Information System used statewide at Forestry dispatch centers to facilitate authorization of prescribed burns. The system also tracks the activities of personnel and equipment in response to wildfire and other incidents. The system is mission critical in FFS’s ability to reducing risk to life, property and forest resources.
Unfortunately, the system was failing. Built on a client server model with a significant amount of the application processing occurring in a desktop “fat” client application, errors and poor performance were forcing dispatchers to rely on a paper trail and preventing prescribed burns from being authorized. Low bandwidth in many of the dispatch centers made these problems worse.
FFS was unable to effectively make bug fixes to the system due to difficulties in managing code, software builds and propagating changes out to client computers.
We executed a plan to refactor the application as a multi-tier system using a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). The desktop app would include only the aspects of the system dealing with user interface, and all processing was moved into ASP.Net web services. Database stored procedures were refactored and improved as well.
On the DevOps side, source code control, software builds, bug tracking and release management were revamped and modernized using Visual Studio Team Services.
Today, FFS is able to operate its prescribed burn program efficiently, ensuring that burns are only authorized when the winds, weather and land cover do not indicate that the resulting smoke will impede highways, schools and other smoke sensitive areas.
During wildfire events, personnel and equipment can accurately be tracked without resorting to a paper trail.