Cosumnes Fire Department (CFD), which serves the cities of Elk Grove and Galt, will launch a 360-degree video public service announcement later this year warning drivers to make way for public safety vehicles. It will be available on Google Cardboard like this one. ( Capt. Kirk McKinzie/Cosumnes Fire Department )

Highway safety is the entry point for one Sacramento County fire agency to deploy a visual education solution aimed at more effectively schooling motorists on road rules — the first in a series of public-facing tools it hopes to one day wield.

Cosumnes Fire Department (CFD), which serves the cities of Elk Grove and Galt, is in the final draft stage of work on a 360-degree video public service announcement it will make available utilizing Google Cardboard, cautioning drivers to “pull to the right when you see lights and sirens.” Filmed with a Fusion camera provided by GoPro Inc., the PSA could arrive as soon as late January or early February on roughly 100 Google Cardboards, Cosumnes Fire Capt. Kirk McKinzie told Techwire. The initiative, which CFD hopes to augment in number to as many as 10,000 devices, utilized financial support and equipment from W.S. Darley & Co. and GoPro Inc., respectively, with Cardboards donated by AT&T — resulting in “minimal” cost to the agency.

The video, produced by CFD Engineer Brian Flynn, apparatus operator and drone pilot, is part of a larger plan to use technology to create a connected, safer environment for residents and first responders — which could prevent some public safety incidents from ever happening; and with technology, empower a swifter, more effective response to those that do. CFD’s first public-facing deliverable, McKinzie said, is part of a “progressive delivery model” and “the first step in the longer view” of what he hopes will one day be 911 Go, a multi-faceted platform.

911 Go, a name adapted from the Pokemon Go app-based game, is envisioned as an app available to residents and first responders that would use building information, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to power a 3-D map of one’s immediate environment, enabling escape from structures during a fire or other emergency while also empowering action by safety personnel. The app is currently in concept form, awaiting funding.

Another 360-degree video tool utilizing footage from a recent controlled burn in support of NASA’s AUDREY app could help train firefighters and is in early development. AUDREY, or the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security, is in-cloud software designed to analyze data to inform first responders. McKinzie demonstrated the footage to a staff writer on an Oculus Go headset at Techwire's State of Technology Industry Forum in December.

“The thought is a safe and secure, smart community risk reduction platform that would be focused on providing new ways of public education. I want to build this smart ecosystem,” said McKinzie, a technologist who has spent a decade working with 3-D technologies including modeling, photogrammetry and lidar.

Bruce Parks, president of the Sacramento-based Drone Pilots Federation, a nonprofit and self-described “neutral party” that functions as a drone racing sanctioning body and educational and advocacy group, said he’s known McKinzie for years and praised him for being in the vanguard on emerging technologies.

“What you’re really observing is the convergence of a variety of technologies including augmented reality, for a range of applications. Kirk, to his credit, he has long been in front of that,” said Parks, who took part in a panel discussion with McKinzie in May at the Revolutionary Technologies Expo 2018. CFD won the Revolutionary Technology Award for 911 Go at the event, a recognition for local government innovation.

A 24-year CDT staffer and 13-year captain, McKinzie said his ultimate goal is to “fund the smartest fire department on the planet,” working to scale the new technologies available to firefighters across the state and nation — and using them to drive safety beyond what has previously been possible.

“There's only a handful of jurisdictions that I'm aware of, doing this level of communication around the world, yet it's going to be pervasive. I expect it to be pervasive going forward,” McKinzie said.