CEO Weekends: Mobile App To Predict, Detect, Monitor Wild Fires Has Been Launched By The SA Government




The CSIR Meraka Institute in South Africa has launched a mobile application that allows users to receive information regarding the prediction, detection, monitoring and assessment of wild fires across Southern Africa.

This introduction was cartecy of the institute in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environmental Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the South African National Space Agency. It is the mobile version of the CSIR’s Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) and is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

 Research group leader for apps, Philip Frost, says the app provides fire managers, farmers and disaster personnel with a tool on their smart devices to receive information regarding wild fires in their areas.

 “Some of the main features include [showing] current wildfire locations detected by satellite, a five-day fire danger forecast for any location, and [showing] the number of days since the last fire at any location,” he said. 

The application shows very detailed information about detected fires, some of them including, intensity and time of detection is shown, as well as statistics such as fire count, frequency and time since last burn. It also allows for geo-tagged photo uploads of fires across the region and fire alert push notifications.

AFIS is a satellite-based fire information tool that provides near real-time fire information to users across the globe. The system utilizes information from various sources, including earth observation satellites and numerical weather prediction models to assist in fire management.

The CSIR first developed AFIS in partnership with Eskom, to allow the power utility’s management to respond quickly to fires under transmission lines, which could reduce damage and disruption to the power supply.

Fires cause approximately 20% of transmission line faults. Any fire that occurs within 5km from a transmission line in SA is automatically reported via SMS to Eskom’s national control centre and the relevant field staff in that region of the fire.

The mobile app is available free to all users with Apple iPhones and iPads and also Android devices.