Forest Fire Management System
Republic of Turkey General Directorate of Forestry

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Global issues of utmost importance, like diminishing forest resources in the world, recent global warming and climate change, and insufficiency of healthy water resources, have become even more significant, given social expectations. Forest fires, having a tendency to spread quickly, causing severe harm with devastating effects, are among the extremely dangerous types of fire. For this reason, wildfires need to be suppressed as soon as possible and extinguished with the least damage. Managers taking place in the organization of fighting a forest fire had been having problems related with the information about the fire, including the exact location of the fire and the staff joining the fight. Main problems were having difficulty in: Obtaining the information Getting the information in time Getting the accurate information Seeing all the information together Examining the retrospective information concerning activities of the staff Even when working in the field, it was as if there was a lack of ability to see clearly. This made it harder for officers to succeed. Managers in forest fighting previously had to carry paper maps of forestry with them all the time. These maps contained more than 10.000 pages in total. If they were damaged in a fire, those responsible were investigated since the maps contained classified information. It used to be quite difficult, sometimes impossible, to get information for a vehicle (sprinkler, plane, helicopter, trailer, etc.) that departed from another city to join the forest fire fighting. Since this information (its speed, its current location, its time of arrival, its drivers/operators and their mobile numbers, etc.) was not actively available, controlling vehicles coming from different cities was quite difficult. Violations of traffic rules used to be seen more often as there wasn’t any warning system that would detect a vehicle going over speed limits to reach the destination of fire as soon as possible. A detection system for vehicles to prevent accidents was necessary. Not being able to determine the number of vehicles to join, reach the driver of a vehicle, know the current locations of vehicles, or obtain the information about the fire (the geographic coordinates, the conditions of the land/forest) made it hard to use the elements of forest fire fighting effectively. Managing forest fires in the night-time was particularly difficult. For success in forest fire prevention and fighting, long and costly work, as modelling of fire behaviour, time-based analysis, recording and storing information for feedback, is necessary. Before Forest Fire Management System, performing this kind of work was difficult and involved big costs. The implementation of Forest Fire Management System depended on technology, science and human mind together, aspiring to save our natural wealth. The aim of the project is early detection of forest fires, contributing to fast and effective action, therefore securing the lives of not only the 15 million civilians who live in villages in or near forests, but also other forms of life in forest ecosystems.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Success in forest firefighting efforts depends on planning and making preparations in time before fires occur, and, predetermining the roles of all attendants during fires. The objective is to prevent fires in the first place and to ensure minimum damage from occurring fires. Having a strong organization and a sufficient foundation is essential to prevent fires, or to extinguish them quickly before they spread to larger areas. A successful operation depends on a continuous, fast and reliable information flow. Activities of fire control includes all efforts necessary to suppress or extinguish fires as soon as possible. Response time is most critical to effectively deal with forest fires. For early response, equipped land teams, as well as aerial firefighting teams, are of importance. For land teams to reach the locations of fires, the equipment and facilities that help determine the exact locations quickly are especially important. In 2006, a big fire occurred in a national park in Antalya. It was understood that more than enough teams and vehicles were used for this fire, causing a big traffic in the area, which resulted in some vehicles almost catching fire since their escape routes were not determined, while vehicles could not reach the areas they were required. Managers in GDF then decided to establish a commission to search for technological means to prevent similar situations from occurring again. After the research, it was seen that Information Technology could be a solution, and this project was presented to GDF. The pilot study of the project began in May 2007 with 2727 mobile data transmitter devices being installed on firefighting vehicles. The success of the pilot project has shown that the system was useful and required for early response to fires; so, in 2008, 5450 mobile data devices were installed on airplanes, helicopters, sprinklers, dozers, graders, fuel trucks, trailers, and administrative vehicles, which made it possible to track all vehicles on digital maps instantly. Before this system was implemented, the average fire response time was 28 minutes. As of 2014, this was reduced to 14 minutes. As a result of earlier response, it was established that the average amount of area burned in a forest fire was greatly reduced. General Directorate Of Forestry (GDF), affiliated to the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, is a public institution that performs its tasks of the protection, development and enhancement of forests in harmony with nature and according to the sustainable forest management criteria and indicators. GDF has a total of 39,369 personnel. Turkey’s forestlands have an area of 21.678.134 hectares, covering 27.6% of its acreage. 60% of Turkey’s forest asset, a total of 12 million hectares, are in regions highly sensitive to fire. Forests in Turkey, as part of Mediterranean climate regions, are under serious threat of fires in summer months with increasing temperature. Up to 120-150 Km depth part of Turkish coastline consist of areas with the highest risk of fire. The great majority of forest fires in Turkey, as well as throughout the world, are human-initiated. Scientists assert that global warming and climate change will cause drought; therefore, it is expected that the fire season in Turkey, currently between June and October, might be beginning earlier and there might be an increase in the amount of fires. Considering that forests are carbon sinks, restoring and regeneration of forests, erosion control and taking additional measures against forest fires are required.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Turkey has a strong foundation in fighting forest fires; however, there were problems in coordination, in right and continous information flow, in communication between people, machines and nature. GDF, making use of Information Technologies effectively, has decided to build a system that can be constantly monitored and instantly controlled anywhere, helping managers obtain the right information and make the right decision in the Information Age where everywhere has become an office. The project has been kept updated regarding the demands for improvement by users. Chief administrators can instantly see the Bird’s eye view of the area of fire on digital maps, land teams near the area, off-road vehicles, aircraft and earthmovers; and, they can send the nearest teams to the region of fire. Thus, by saving time and labor force, suppressing fires sooner and effectively becomes possible. With records and reports of the system, such information as taking off/landing times for firefighting aircraft, whether they have taken the right routes, places they have refilled their water tanks, the number of sorties, can be obtained to be analyzed. The project, being web-based and having an effective role in firefighting activities, has been adopted by users and has become indispensable.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
“Forest Fire Management System” Project, in which the position information and other details of vehicles are monitored instantly, was brought to life in 2007 with the aim of: - increasing efficiency in the fight against forest fires via Web-Based Mobile Applications, - ensuring intervening in the fire quickly by enforcement units directing the nearest firefighting team and vehicles to the given coordinates immediately when a forest fire occurs, - preventing unnecessary labor / costs by suppressing fires earlier, - facilitating fire management by providing convenience to administrators in control, planning, and determining strategy by evaluating the positions, numbers and movements of vehicles around the area of fire on digital forestry maps, - using the vehicles in equipment pool in a more economical, efficient, regular and reported system, - saving time in the delivery of services, reducing errors and accidents caused by drivers through monitoring their speed and movements, and providing fuel savings, - preventing undesired use of available vehicles by avoiding overlong breaks, idle time violations, operating zone and route violations, - ensuring all vehicles operate at maximum efficiency, and providing the required assistance in emergencies, like a sudden rotation of the wind, by helicopters or other vehicles to earthmovers intervening fires. The project, which started with 2727 mobile data transmit devices in 2007, has been expanded by installing on a total of 5450 vehicles (planes, helicopters, pumpers, dozers, graders, trailers and administrative vehicles) as of 2014. Fire Management System provides getting accurate, uninterrupted and instant information regarding all the elements involved in a fire (aerial and land vehicles, earth movers, etc.). It has provided planning firefighting actions with minimum faults, creating, as a result, a modern organization and success in implementation. Fire Management System, in terms of its users, is the virtual eye, information store, analysis source, feedback / data consultant for officials; in short, it’s an important actor in determining forest firefighting strategy and tactics. This system has greatly contributed to its users as being the most accurate and immediately accessible information store for a reliable detection of damages resulting from a fire, or for any reports that might be required. Financial portrait is another important issue. High costs might occur as a result of firefighting activities. Even when there aren’t any fires, an inability to control the dispatch and management of vehicles increases costs. Using the “Fire Management System” has provided significant savings in costs.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
“Arvento Vehicle Tracking and Fleet Management Systems” and “Turkcell Communication Services Inc.” have been operating as implementation partners. Mobile Data Transmit Devices installed on vehicles have been provided by Arvento. These devices transfer position information from GPS satellites, temperature and similar telemetric information from connected sensors to the Control and Communication Center via GSM/GPRS network by using the Turkcell infrastructure. Incoming information is evaluated through the special software designed by Arvento and recorded to the data bank on servers. Users are able to follow the forest fire organization online. The system is available online in 11 languages. Turkcell Communication Services Inc. provided GSM/GPRS solutions, establishing mobile base stations to expand the coverage area in forest lands and at the fires with tendency to spread. 130 engineers and technicians from the central and provincial units of GDF have been working on the project. 250 engineers working at Arvento provide technical support and make updates to the software in accordance with the demands. Solution Partners: 1-Turkcell Communication Services Inc. Turkish communication technologies company Turkcell has been operating in nine countries. It is the only Turkish company listed on the NYSE. The company has a total of 10 national patents and a total of 191 patent applications, including 29 international applications. 2- Arvento Vehicle Tracking and Fleet Management Systems Inc. www. The company provides R&D and Manufacturing, Hardware Design and Development, Radio Frequency Design, Industrial-Mechanical Design, High-Level Software Design and Development, Embedded Software Design and Development, Systems Engineering, Fleet Management System, Industrial Automation, Telemetry and SCADA systems, and Call Center Services. They have applications in Austria, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Kuwait, Tajikistan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Between 2007 and 2014, approximately 2 million US dollars of General Directorate of Forestr’s own resources has been expended for the Fire Management System. GDF has allocated enough budget for expenditures in the future. A total of 130 engineers and technicians from the central and provincial units of the General Directorate of Forestry have been working on the project. 250 engineers from the Arvento Arvento Vehicle Tracking and Fleet Management Systems have been supporting the system and make updates to the software.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. Local temperatures in locations of the vehicles are monitored in real time. For scientific purposes, fire behavior modeling is carried out with temperature and humidity information received instantly from the vehicles located at fire scenes. 2. Assistance to teams caught in the middle of fire, or faced with danger, is delivered through the emergency-call devices on each vehicle. The coordinates and other information for the vehicles asking for help are immediately found online within the system. Between 2007 and 2014, a total of 29 pumpers in various regional directorates were caught in similar situations during fires. Exit of the officials and pumpers from the fire areas without any damage has been ensured by dropping water by helicopters. Information such as the phone numbers of drivers and technical crew, the trainings technical crew has attended for firefighting, the drivers operating a certain vehicle, and whether the technical crew has leadership skills or not, are instantly obtained. 3- When a forest fire location is received, all pumpers nearby, starting from the nearest pumper, are directed to the fire scene together with the region chief. If it’s a critical region, or the fire is threatining, looking up the coordinates of the region on the Fire Management System, the nearest helicopters and earthmovers are also directed to the fire scene. In a regional directorate, 3-5 fires can occur at the same time in the fire season. To suppress all these fires, necessary planning is made by taking combustible material, air humidity, wind and temperature conditions as basis; and, since fires may tend to grow on days with high risk, fire organization in the regional directorate is shifted to the fire regions gradually and forces from the nearby regional directorates are shifted to vacated areas. 4- Incoming pumpers are directed according to the information received by the teams that arrived the fire zone first, and, if necessary, reinforcement teams are also dispatched. If it is understood that the fire can not be extinguished with the possibilities of the regional directorate, it is reinforced with technical crew, workers, helicopters and earthmovers from other regions depending on the size of the fire. 5- After the growing danger of the fire has been averted, or the fire has been taken under control, all the vehicles moved to the fire zone are sent back as they are seen on the Fire Management System.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Two usernames and codes below have been assigned for the UN To examine the system in more detail. User name: un1 User code: un1 User code2: un1 User name: un2 User code: un2 User code2: un2 Engineers and technicians from GDF and Arvento have been monitoring the system and making updates. In 2007, Arvento Systems was available only in Turkish; but, since 2014 it has been made available in 10 other languages: English, German, Arabic, Persian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Romanian, Albanian and Georgian. Mostly, this system is used in other countries not only for fire tracking, but also for other forestry affairs. By adding a Fire Tracking System to the original system, all forest fires in Turkey are now monitored. Nearly 60 types of statistical data are recorded, such as the coordinates of fire location, causes of the fire, the amount of areas burnt, meteorological conditions, genus of the trees in the area, positive and negative situations that occurred, etc.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
When mobile data transmit devices were first installed on vehicles, employees mostly resisted this new application. They thought these were installed to monitor them, and people in GDF applying the system were met with questions like: “What will happen when we are monitored?” Or: “How can we deactivate the mobile data device?” There were such difficulties due to resistance to using the system. As a result of the educational programs, this negative attitude dissappeared, and the benefits of the system were adopted by employees, solving the problem in a short period of time. In areas where the population is not dense, problems related with the coverage area of GSM services sometimes occur, causing some disadvantage in the fires in rural areas. Areas outside GSM coverage were determined, and measures were taken accordingly by the solution partners. It is established according to statistical data that 96% of all forest fires are human initiated, given that fires of unknown origin are human-caused as well. That’s why the measures taken against fires are also human-oriented. An increase in the amount of forest fires recently, for various reasons, is observed; yet, as a result of the precautions taken, and the sensitivity on forest fires, a decrease in the amount of areas burned is observed as well. In recent years, there has been seen a significant increase in public awareness about forest fires. Local villagers are legally responsible of participating in fire-fighting and, in addition, local authorities and armed forces make an important contribution. With “Forest Fire Management System,” various types of geographical data in the inventory of GDF were stored by means of modern GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Technologies, which made it possible for administrators to manage and share resources online, and to make their decisions faster.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Fundamental changes are applied in the management of forest resources in accordance with international developments; more effective conservation of forests that have considerable biodiversity, improving forest-public relations, fight against climate change, protecting safe water resources and clean air. Turkey is a rare country that can increase its forest assets. Turkey’s forest area was 20.2 million hectares in 1972. In 2014, it has reached 21.6 million hectares. The implementation of these innovations in Turkey is thought to have contributed to this increase. Between the years 2007-2014, around 2 million USD is spent for the Forest Fire Management System. However, during this period, nearly 28 million USD is saved. Thanks to this project, vehicles close to a forest fire location can now be seen and they are directed to the location immediately. In case of an emergency, the system made it easier to help the firefighting teams in danger. The system has become an indispensable element in forest firefighting due to being web-based and has taken an active role in forest fire management. Being able to give current information to the public via TV channels with this system has provided transparency and increased public confidence. The project received awards in various e-government competitions. “eTR Awards” have been awarded annually since 2003 by the Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSİAD) and Turkey Informatics Foundation (TBV) to draw attention to the most innovative initiatives for the public. General Directorate of Forestry has received e-TR First Prize in “From Public to Public e-Services” category in 2008 with the system. In 2012, Forest Fire Management System was again the winner among 48 eTR award-winning projects as “The Project That Has Shown the Greatest Improvement” at the tenth anniversary of e-TR Awards. Forest Fire Management System was the winner at the competition “Informatics Stars e-Evolution,” organized by Turkey Informatics Foundation (TBV) in 2009. Forest Fire Management System has also received “the Fleet Manager of the Year Jury Special Award” at the competition “the Fleet Manager Awards of the Year,” organized by the Economist magazine and LeasePlan Directorate of Turkey.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Forest Fire Management is a closed system that can be accessed with passwords, used mostly by the GDF personel, and applied to help GDF administrators make decisions in extraordinary conditions. In addition, some other institutions make use of the system, as various Courts of Justice, Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Disaster Coordination Center. It is used in other institutions to monitor and coordinate official vehicles throughout the country in events such as earthquakes. With the success of these efforts in GDF, Turkish Ministry of Finance has decided to install similar systems on all official vehicles in Turkey. Representatives from different countries have come to Turkey to observe the system and these efforts. Collaborative efforts of forest firefighting with requesting countries are pursued. The efforts of aerial and land teams sent to help forest firefight in Syria, Georgia, Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Israel, and Albania are watched online instantly and can be controlled by the authorities. In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, all forestry and firefighting vehicles operate via this system.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Since the locations of vehicles in fire areas appear online on the system, they are quickly sent where they are needed. Thanks to the emergency call devices placed in each vehicle, fire crews that face danger or get stuck in the middle of a fire can be quickly helped. Coordinates of the vehicles asking for help can be seen online and help is provided. In similar situations between 2007 and 2014 in several Regional Directorates, 29 pumpers stuck in forest fires with their crews were rescued without any damage with the help of aircraft dropping water on fire. By evaluating the data obtained, machines, vehicles, tools and staff required can be determined. Some advantages have been gained in effectively helping the crews stuck in fire scenes because of sudden wind change, or losing their way, or broken down vehicles, etc. Whenever a fire denouncement is received, operating units let the crews and vehicles move to the nearest available location for the given coordinates. This makes it possible to intervene a forest fire in a short period of time. Labour and economic losses are avoided by suppressing fires before growing. With the establishment of the system, response time to forest fires decreased and effectiveness in fire-fighting efforts increased. Forest fire management got easier for fire commanders. Positions, quantities and activities of vehicles, including heavy-duty vehicles, around a fire location can be monitored by all authorities at the same time (in both the General and Regional Directorates) and the information needed can be easily obtained. This gives them a chance to make the right decisions quickly. With the system, a consensus between managers occurs in issues such as the threat level of a fire, or whether the number of vehicles is enough to put out a certain fire, etc. Monitoring the system on mobile devices with compatible hardware, like cell phones, PDA, etc. is possible. This feature has great importance in terms of fire management in the field.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Republic of Turkey General Directorate of Forestry
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ilhami AYDIN
Title:   Director of Electronics and Communications Branch  
Telephone/ Fax:   +90533 9665796 / +90312 2964132
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Orman Genel Müdürlüğü Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu Cad No: 51/B Giriş kat Balgat/Çankaya
Postal Code:   06520
City:   Ankara

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