News from the CRC

Release date
18 Dec 2017
More information:
Loriana Bethune
Utilisation and DELWP Program Manager

Finding fires faster

The development of an algorithm is helping to detect fires faster than ever before.

Using the latest satellite-based earth observation systems and the Himawari satellite, the Fire surveillance and hazard mapping team from RMIT University, led by Prof Simon Jones and Dr Karin Reinke, will allow fire managers to hone in on bushfires before they become too large to handle.

Most fire detection algorithms are susceptible to the effects of cloud, smoke and other obscuration issues. But thanks to the research and development of the new algorithm, the data is now able to be used more frequently to detect fires, providing a robust and computationally rapid method for early fire detection across Australia.

Simeon Telfer is a fire manager from South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, and says the research can make a difference to operations.

“Due to the increased availability of the satellite data and faster processing, there is an opportunity for earlier detections, and for ongoing remote observations of fi res to be made,” Simeon says.

In the future, this means some fires could be detected hours earlier than was previously possible, leading to quicker deployment of firefighters and firefighting aircraft, as well as warnings to the public.

The project is also improving the accuracy of vegetation monitoring for flammability, as well as saving critical personnel hours, through the development of a smartphone application. The Fuels3D app allows land managers to rapidly collect imagery and uses computer vision and photogrammetric techniques to calculate vegetation structure and fuel hazard metrics. The use of the app ensures more accurate and consistent data is collected as individual bias is completely removed.

The Fuels3D app allows anyone to take a vegetation fuel sample, improving knowledge of prescribed burn efficacy, and provides inputs into fire behaviour modelling and risk assessment and planning.

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