Wireless technology to tackle forest fire

Wireless technology to tackle forest fire 

05 April 2014

published by www.thehindu.com

 India — Wireless Sensor Network pinpoints the exact location of fire in six minutes

Rather than the fire in Seshachalam recently, the inability of fire fighters in reaching the exact spot caused more damage to the biodiversity-rich hill ranges.

Fire prevention measures in practice include patrol, observation from watch towers and satellite monitoring. Now, the use of Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is gaining prominence over the others. WSN is a set of low-cost battery-powered sensor nodes that senses, processes and communicates data such as temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure, which helps in easy detection of forest fire and even eliminates the need for human intervention in rough terrains. By pre-deploying the sensor nodes, data can be received regularly from all over the forest. “Forest fire is easily extinguishable when it is in a smaller area”, says D. Narayana Rao, Director (Academic) at SRM University (Chennai) and former Director of National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL). He has submitted a proposal to this effect to the TTD after the recent fire.

The system can be designed in such a way that it transmits data on a war-footing during fire and not so in non-emergency situations, thus consuming less power. Such a system is employed by the USA, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and Spain.

“As it requires thousands of sensor nodes to be deployed all over the forest, replacing batteries is hardly an option and hence 5 watt photovoltaic solar panels should be used. The accurate location of fire has to be pinpointed in six minutes so that fire fighters can be sent early to tame it, before it causes much damage. The sensors made of water and fire resistant material will have to be arranged in such a way that any sensor is located not more than 20 metres away from the neighbouring one,” Prof. Rao told The Hindu. He said such a system can be initially planned to cover 100 hectares of Seshachalam hills.

On the economic front, the entire system costs Rs. 3.75 crore. The amount seems insignificant when seen in the backdrop of the invaluable biodiversity at stake and the avoidable panic caused to Venkateswara devotees across the globe.

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