Wildfires destroyed 10.1 million acres in 2015 according to High Country News, with costs for the destruction rising to $2.6 billion by the end of the year. These frightening natural disasters are difficult to manage under even the best of circumstances and pose a threat to homes, lives, and the land itself. Modern fire safety technology is improving, but there still is much that can be done to give wildland fire response teams the upper hand in battle. The Internet of Things is a powerful weapon in this war, and a linked network of IoT devices can connect any fire team across a wide range of land to improve communications, monitoring capabilities, and allow for more agile response. Urban and suburban fire response teams already are adopting IoT throughout the country, and the time is ripe for wildfire teams to join in.
The Invisible Fence: Perimeter Monitoring through IoT
Wildfires spread quickly and often unpredictably, pushed by the wind, fueled by untamed underbrush, and driven forward by geographic features. Fortunately, IoT-linked digital perimeters can be established in vulnerable areas using machine to machine (M2M) technology links between each physical node of the digital fence. Linked with digital wind gauges, cameras, and smoke monitors, these perimeters can provide real-time notice of the fire’s progress. In turn, this data allows for faster response times and more effective containment strategies.
As the fire spreads, multiple perimeters may be established to track encroachment toward residential areas, providing data that allows for safer evacuation routes. Wildlife management teams also may work in concert with fire fighters, linking RFID-tagged members of local wildlife populations to the perimeter’s network to monitor animal movement during the fire. After the fire, this data can be used to bolster restoration efforts and create safer sanctuaries.
Firemen’s Eye in the Sky: IoT-Linked Drone Technology
Drones can be linked to a wildland fire team’s IoT network too, instantly relaying camera data to the cloud so that teams can monitor a fire’s progress from both the field and fire-station. IoT-enabled drones allow teams to conduct reconnaissance from a safe distance to better prepare for rescues and containment. As Forbes notes, chemical sensors, lasers, and other tracking tools can be added to drones.
In the future, larger drones may be able to conduct fire suppression activities, allowing human firefighters to work at a safer distance and focus their activities on rescue and evacuation. These drones even can be used to detect the temperature of a fire and can cover thousands of acres in just a few hours, going much deeper into the fire than possible with human response teams.
Preventing Future Fires: IoT Data Collection as a Tool for Predictive Analysis
The National Interagency Fire Center records that in 2016, 15 lives were claimed by wildfires. Given enough time and data, however, it is possible to prevent future deaths by predicting where the next fire will strike. Accurate prediction allows for swift and certain prevention efforts, including controlled burns, burn bans, construction of fire lines, and application of chemical fire retardant. IoT-linked monitoring from past fires can be merged with mapping and analysis software to create data visualizations that show where and how fires have spread.
Constant monitoring of all vulnerable areas in a region will allow fire teams to compare current conditions to those that led to recent fires. Linking this data across the cloud can allow experts from around the world to participate in analysis and prediction efforts.
Customized Network Solutions for Wildfire Teams: Aeris IoT
There are many variables and circumstances to consider when selecting the best network option for wildland fire response teams. For teams wanting to add communications and alert systems to their network in addition to the monitoring technology discussed here, a cellular network may be the best option. More localized wireless systems can be established for deployment teams working in a smaller area, and long-term monitoring may even be conducted along a lower cost low-power wide area (LPWA) network. Whether you fight wildfires in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest or the forests of Appalachia, Neo will work closely with your team to determine which option best fits your needs.
Contact us today to find out about our commitment to safe, reliable networks that optimize your team’s performance.