Towards real-time wildfire monitoring: matching research with operational needs

By Pau Costa Foundation on

Session: Fire response

Presenter: M. Miguel Valero (Centre for Technological Risk Studies (CERTEC), Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

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CERTEC conducts research in various areas related to industrial and environmental risk. The ultimate goal of this research is to improve population safety and reduce the impact of accidents, avoiding them whenever possible. Example topics that fall within CERTEC's research scope are: dispersion of accidental toxical releases, compartment fires, wildland fires, explosions and pipeline accidents and domino effect in industrial accidents. Methodologies used to study these topics range from experimental research to computational simulation, including quantitative risk analysis, material characterisation, remote sensing, computer vision and CFD simulation among others


ABSTRACT: For the last 5 years, CERTEC has developed software for real-time monitoring of active wildland fires. Among the functionalities achieved so far, we have remote sensing modules for automatic fire tracking and a data-driven simulator to produce short-time fire spread forecasts based on data observed using aerial infrared imagery. We believe that this work may be useful for fire researchers and fire emergency responders. On the one hand, remote sensing allows the quantitative characterization of real-scale wildfire behaviour, essential to gain understanding of fire dynamics. On the other hand, real-time observations and forecasts may increase situational awareness and support decision making during emergency management. However, there are significant challenges to overcome. Aerial infrared imagery of active wildfires is extremely scarce, which hinders algorithm testing and validation. Additionaly, automated imagery georeferencing remains an unsolved step. Furthermore, our algorithms must be adapted to operational hardware constraints so that they can be deployed in the field. This will require a tight integration with deployable aircraft (including drones) and available communication networks. Finally, close collaboration with fire management teams is essential to adapt our system to their needs. For these reasons, our research would greatly benefit from this discussion forum. We need input from very diverse audiencies including fire emergency responders, wildfire behaviour researchers, remote sensing experts and hardware and communication engineers. Collaborating with the private industry would also be very beneficial for us.

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