Tracking bushfires with advanced technology
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.
IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY: Before and after images showing the existing bushfire spotting system and the new one.