Italy is betting on hi-tech fire detection sensors to protect its forests from climate change

In the year Authorities on the Italian island of Sardinia, hit by wildfires in 2021, are pinning their hopes on early wildfire detection sensors to prevent a repeat of a similar disaster.

The sensors, which use Internet of Things (IoT) technology and operate without cellular coverage, are installed on trees before they fully capture the gas during a fire.

The aim is to reduce the response time of fire services to the critical first hour in the hope that they can contain the fire before it spreads out of control.

“Think of it as a smart forest,” says Ruben Kingsland, IoT and cloud specialist at Vodafone Business.

“Those sensors talk to each other in the forest and connect to this, which is the gateway that sits at the edge of the forest.”

Connecting to a cloud-based alert center means this is a much faster solution to the problem of forest fire detection than using cameras or satellites.

“Compared to other solutions, you can use satellite imagery, but that satellite imagery can take a month to come back. Or you can use cameras in the bush, but that can take hours before you see the smoking fire,” explained Matt Green, Vodafone Business Technologist.

“The detectors here are at the smoking stage, very early, and you can detect a fire in minutes, not hours or days,” he added.

The innovative “Smart Forest” is the result of a partnership between Vodafone Business and Extreme E, an off-road electric race that aims to draw attention to the impacts of climate change and the solutions we can all contribute to.

“One of the biggest things we’re seeing in climate change right now is wildfires around the world, and ultimately the solution we’re developing will prevent future wildfires,” Kingsland said.

In the year In 2021, a 20,000-hectare fire in Sardinia displaced more than 1,000 people and killed nearly 30 million bees.

In the year Wildfires will emit 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon globally by 2021, more than double Germany’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to the EU’s Copernicus atmospheric monitoring service.

Globally, volcanic emissions have not been the highest since 2003, but Copernicus said such emissions are likely to increase as the effects of climate change increase.

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