National Park Service Co-Sponsors Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge

Image of flame with sensors near forested mountain, with additional text.
$60,000.00 in prize money is available for a quickly deployable sensor system to measure air pollution during wildland fires.


News Release Date: April 6, 2017

Contact: Tina Boehle, 208.387.5875

This morning, six federal agencies, including the National Park Service, have announced a Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge seeking an accurate, lower-cost, and low-maintenance air quality monitoring system that can be used during a wildfire or prescribed fire. The data provided by the sensor system will help federal, state, local and tribal agencies protect the health of first responders and communities affected by the smoke.

Developers are encouraged to submit a prototype sensor system that measures fine particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The system should be capable of rapid deployment and continuous real-time monitoring of highly dynamic air pollution levels during a fire event. Developers should also aim for designs that: are easy to use and self-powered, include location data, and wirelessly transmit data to a central data-receiving station. Written submissions are due by November 22, 2017 and prototypes must be submitted by January 5, 2018. The sensor systems will be evaluated in government specialty labs based on

  1. accuracy over a wide range of pollutant levels, 
  2. system cost, 
  3. operation requirements relevant for wildland fire deployment. All developers who submit prototypes will receive direct feedback on laboratory tests and end user review.

At the conclusion of the judging period in summer 2018, prize winners will be selected. The total prize pool is $60,000, which may be awarded to a single winner if all the requirements are met, or divided into several partial awards. See for more information.

The sponsors of the Sensors Challenge are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Park Service (NPS). The non-profit organization, Tall Timbers Research Station, is also a partner.

Two informational webinars will be held May 8 at 1 pm Eastern (5 pm GMT) and May 16 at 8 am Eastern (Noon GMT). To attend the webinars, visit; Audio: 1-866-299-3188, code: 9195411894.

Last updated: April 6, 2017