Track­ing bush­fires with ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy

Isis Town and Country - - News - By MIKE DERRY

Phil Wil­liams It is quite so­phis­ti­cated ... We can find out where the hotspots are be­fore the fires have even been re­ported.

A NEW satel­lite sys­tem to keep watch for bush­fires from next sea­son is ex­pected to make the Bund­aberg re­gion safer.

Geo­science Aus­tralia’s Sen­tinel Hotspots sys­tem will re­ceive a ma­jor up­grade as a re­cip­i­ent of the 2015-16 Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Projects (NEMP) grants an­nounced in Can­berra by Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan.

The Sen­tinel Hotspot mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem pro­vides in­for­ma­tion about po­ten­tial bush­fire hotspots to emer­gency ser­vice man­agers and the gen­eral public across Aus­tralia through the use of satel­lite im­agery.

But the up­graded sys­tem will pro­vide up­dates 144 times a day.

Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice Bund­aberg act­ing area di­rec­tor Phil Wil­liams said the ser­vice used the present sys­tem a lot.

“It’s a handy tool,” he said.

But the present sys­tem only pro­vided up­dates ev­ery four to six hours.

Mr Wil­liams said the fire ser­vice was able to use other satel­lites as well to mon­i­tor the re­gion.

“We get quite a lot of satel­lite in­for­ma­tion on hotspots,” he said. “It is quite so­phis­ti­cated. “It lets our map­ping peo­ple add an ex­tra layer on to our op­er­a­tional maps.”

Mr Wil­liams said the tech­nol­ogy gave the fire ser­vice a heads up on where the hotspots were dur­ing the fire sea­son.

“It lets us make con­tact with the lo­cal brigades in ar­eas where there are hotspots so we can of­fer sup­port,” he said.

“We can find out where the hotspots are be­fore the fires have even been re­ported.”

Mr Wil­liams said the planned up­grade would give the fire ser­vice even more in­for­ma­tion to mon­i­tor.

“Most of our fires get re­ported but this will let us get on the front foot,” he said.

“In re­mote ar­eas it will give us the op­por­tu­nity to throw in more re­sources or of­fer sup­port.”

Geo­science Aus­tralia CEO Chris Pi­gram said the up­grade would en­able emer­gency ser­vices to mon­i­tor fire de­vel­op­ment in near real-time.

He said when nat­u­ral dis­as­ters oc­curred, timely and ac­cu­rate de­ci­sions needed to be made by emer­gency man­age­ment author­i­ties to en­sure the safety of in­di­vid­u­als and to min­imise im­pacts on prop­erty and in­fra­struc­ture.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

IM­PROVED TECH­NOL­OGY: Be­fore and af­ter im­ages show­ing the ex­ist­ing bush­fire spot­ting sys­tem and the new one.

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