Canada–– VANCOUVER — Researchers from the University of British Columbia are developing an application for smart phones that could help prevent forest fires by identifying hazardous areas.
The wildfire measurement application, designed for professionals and members of the public, is meant to measure the amount of fuels available for wildfires in a forest, said the researchers.
Once potential fire hazards such as fallen wood, underbrush, or a thick carpet of pine needles on the forest floor are identified, users should take pictures and upload the images, additional information and GPS coordinates to a database.
“One of the most effective ways to reduce wildfire hazard is to reduce the amount of fuel that is available to burn,” said Colin Ferster, one of the designers of the application.
“By putting this tool in hands of many people, we can collect more information about the current status of the forest, and at the same time increase awareness and cooperation, which will help reduce the threat of wildfire in the community,” Ferster added.
The researchers hoped that with consistent and comparable measurements available, forest managers can make timely decisions on how to best minimize fire hazard.
The designers are currently testing this application to assess methods of collecting measurements to guarantee data quality, and ensure that the application is both useful and practical for users.