Bush wi-fi sensors to save lives

Bush wi-fi sensors to save lives

17 March 2012

published by www.perthnow.com.au

Australia — WI-FI sensors will be stationed across WA to detect the outbreak of a bushfire in its earliest stages.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University’s Centre for Communications Engineering Research have developed the sensors, which take readings of the temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide in surrounding bushland.

When the sensors detect smoke, they instantly alert local fire authorities via a wi-fi internet connection or a text message to a mobile phone, with accurate GPS information on the fire.

The sensors cost $100 and can cover up to 2km.

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Prof Daryoush Habibi, Dr Iftekhar Ahmad and Amro Qandour developed the sensors as part of research into engineering applications that can serve the local community.

WA has been ravaged by vicious bushfires in the past few years, including the Perth Hills fires in February last year that destroyed 71 homes and the 2009 Toodyay fires that destroyed 38 homes.

“Bushfire is a major problem right across the nation. We wanted to serve our communities by finding a solution to the bushfire detection problem,” Dr Ahmad said. “The sensors have the capability to transmit data over long distances, allowing for large geographical areas or remote regions to be covered.”

The team are in the final phases of testing the devices. Once finished, they plan to take their idea to the Fire and Emergency Services Authority.

“We hope to work with them in the near future to help protect our environment and human life from what can be devastating and, unfortunately, all too frequent occurrences,” Dr Ahmad said.

The university team have developed two other environmental monitoring systems they are hoping to make commercially available. One monitors air quality within the home and identifies high levels of potentially fatal gases. Dr Ahmad said that retirement villages could use the system to safeguard elderly residents against faulty heaters or gas stoves.

Another system measures the UV index and could be used by surf lifesaving clubs at the beach.

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