Watch Duty: California Wildfire Watch Driven by RTL-SDRs

Over on Hackaday we've seen an interesting post about the non-profit "Watch Duty" wildfire reporting smart phone app for Californians. Several populated regions of California are extremely prone to wildfires, and it's important that residents get timely notifications about nearby wildfires so they can evacuate early and/or prepare their defensible spaces.

Often by the time official notifications have gone out, it is too late. To solve this, the approach Watch Duty takes is to have volunteers monitoring public safety radio channels, and ADS-B aircraft positions in order to gather information in real time. Once critical information is established, the watch duty volunteer can push out a notification via the smart phone app. 

The volunteers make use of receiver stations that consist of multiple RTL-SDR dongles with each dongle monitoring a different EMS radio system, and one additional RTL-SDR is used for ADS-B aircraft monitoring of helicopters and fire fighting aircraft. The stations appear to uplink radio data to the volunteers via a cellular modem or Starlink.

Earlier in the year Popular Science and Wired reported on Watch Duty as well, but did not mention the use of RTL-SDRs.

A Watch Duty monitoring station with multiple RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles.
A Watch Duty monitoring station with multiple RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles.
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