Youngsters' forest fire system undergoes trials

by Search Gate staff. Published Thu 26 Nov 2009 11:42
CO2 created from forest fires can equal that produced by several million cars

Sony Europe has announced that its partnership with a young team called Forest Guard has reached a vital stage in developing a forest wildfire detection system.

The idea is under-going trans-Atlantic test trials at the Forestry Commission's site at Alice Holt in Surrey and in California.

This concept to detect large forest fires more quickly was inspired by the youngsters in California where they have had first-hand experience of being evacuated from their homes because of wildfires.

In originating the idea they won a coveted international Children’s Climate Call competition in Copenhagen earlier this year, which was organised by LEGO and FIRST, a non-profit organisation that inspires students in science.

Their aim is to reduce the number of wildfires, which have been soaring in California and other parts of the world, due to global warming, letting out huge amounts of CO2.

Sony executives were so impressed with the young group that they offered to bring their idea to life.

Since then the youngsters have been working hard with engineers at Sony’s professional headquarters in Basingstoke, over the summer, resulting in an initial version of the system that is now being tested.

The concept comprises a network of solar powered CCTV cameras mounted on poles throughout the forest, which are linked to citizen fire watchers over the web, to obtain advance warning of wildfires before they manage to spread.

In the tests at both Alice Holt and near the children's home at Tahoe in California, the technology is being assessed without there being any fire simulation. Scottish and Southern Electric have been working closely with Sony and the Forestry Commission to install the system at Alice Holt.

Morgan David, Divisional Director, Research and Development (R&D;) at Sony, said: “We are so pleased we could bring our technology and engineering skills to this project and help this young team’s idea become a reality.

“To apply technology to help solve the problems of climate change is at the heart of Sony’s philosophy and we will continue to collaborate with the Forest Guard initiative and support this project.”

And at the Forestry Commission, Iain Skinner, the area land agent, said: "Fortunately Alice Holt has not suffered from fires, but we are engaged with many aspects of mitigating climate change. We are delighted in being involved with this project to help Sony test this technology, which may be used in many parts of the world to help detect forest fires."

Sony’s designs and software for the Forest Guard proof of concept will be released into the public domain and a white paper will be made available so that the technology is available to all scientists, governments and NGOs working to combat wildfires globally.

Forest Guard are acutely aware of the need for detecting forest wildfires early. In September, forest fires once again broke out near to them destroying 50 homes and 10 businesses in their local area. The families of the young group, Aydan, Bobby, Faith and Drew, were evacuated from their homes as the fire continued to burn closer to their properties.

The team are also keen to highlight the environmental impact these devastating fires can have in California, Australia and southern Europe.

The carbon dioxide emitted during these fires can equal that produced by several million cars on the road in a year and throughout the world CO2 emissions by forest fires are expected to increase by 50% by 2050 if something isn’t done.

Comments about Youngsters' forest fire system undergoes trials

This is so wonderful! The children and Sony!!!
Karla Axten, New Mexico around 2 months ago

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