Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Wonders of Technology

Today, our engineers got a call alerting us that a wildfire was burning very near one of our remote, unmanned mountain facilities...several hours away.

The site is virtually inaccessible during winter - even with the SnoCat. During summer? It's a slow climb up mud roads, rutted from spring run off. We knew it would likely take the forest service some time to get up there and we were all powerless to stop mother nature from quite possibly burning the facility to the ground.

That's not the wondrous part.

What was cool was listening to the engineers hollering (they do that a lot just generally) down the hall at one another...

"OK, we're off air. Lost power."
"Check the air conditioner. Is it running? What's the temperature in the building?"
"Call the phone."
"Do we still have VMC? Remote?"
"Sweet! It hasn't gotten us yet."

From 5 hours away, with no access to satellite imaging or video cameras, using only the control panel software they use to monitor the site - software that gives them virtual "eyes" to let them see and make decisions without going anywhere - the engineers were able to surmise that the building still stood, equipment was still running on generator and battery power, and that, for now, the power outage was most likely due to a downed power line.

That is pretty cool.

But then...I'm pretty easily impressed.

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