By now, even the strongest opponents of climate change are having a change of heart. The sheer devastation we are witnessing across the globe in the form of floods, wild fires and droughts is directly being attributed to climate change.
That is not all, as every year, precious human lives and infrastructure losses worth billions of dollars are inflicted across the globe due to the effects of climate change. Among these devastating effects, wildfires rank right at the top.
Wildfires wreak havoc with decades, or even century old forests. They also destroy civic infrastructure, and most importantly, many precious lives are lost in the process. Raging wildfires often become impossible to control, despite plenty of resources.
Rolling Back the Effects of Climate Change
Even after realizing the true human and financial cost of climate change, any remedial measures will take their own time to show positive effects. Till such time, the only line of defense against raging wildfires is better preparedness with the use of technology.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, wildfires are likely to remain a major threat for at least the coming one decade. This is a long time, and the best course of action here is to leverage technology to mitigate the adverse effects of wildfires.
The researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit are doing a lot of work on this front. The term that they have coined for leveraging modern technologies like Cloud Computing, Edge Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is known as “smart firefighting”.
Whether it’s a raging wildfire in a dense forest, or a large multi storey building, timing is of the essence. Even a single second that a firefighter saves, in the heat of the moment, can mean the difference between life and death for the victims of any such incident.
This will be made possible by leveraging, and integrating modern digital technologies like the Cloud, Edge, AI, ML and real-time data analytics. When these technologies work in unison, they can save not only precious lives, but also infrastructure worth billions.
Real Time Data Feeds
When responding to any fire, situational awareness is very important for any firefighter. Before moving on to save someone else’s life, a firefighter needs to be aware of the hazards at the site, and this information needs to be in real-time.
Let us start with the layout plans of a multi storey building that is engulfed in flames, a forest or a national park. This information needs to be placed over the Cloud, so that this information is readily available and accessible for firefighters at the hour of need.
Then, the situation at any fire scene is changing by the seconds. So, firefighters need real-time information and data about things such as the number of trapped persons, entry and exit points, hazard sources and much more.
This is where the role of smart data collection devices like un-manned drones and Internet of Things (IoT) powered sensors comes into play. All this data will be delivered, and processed over the Edge, to minimize latency and maximize situational relevance.
AI and ML Driven Insights
After aggregating this real time data about a fire, and its effects, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be leveraged to extract actionable insights from this data in real-time, based on the current situation as well as historical data.
ML and AI can also be leveraged to anticipate or predict wildfires, based on historical data about factors such as temperature, humidity, wind conditions and much more. Data on these factors can be used by firefighters to take informed, split second decisions.
The use of modern digital technologies like Cloud Computing, Edge Networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can help us realize the ultimate goal of “smart firefighting”, resulting in the saving of both human lives and infrastructure.
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