Hi-tech bushfire detection gadgets trialled this Australian summer

An aerial view of fire-ravaged bushland in Torrington, NSW, on January 15, 2020
9 September 2020

The greater use of drones, ground sensors, satellites and aerial water bombing to quickly detect and fight bushfires could save the Australian economy $8.2 billion over the next three decades, according to Australian National University research.

Bushfires threaten to cost the Australian economy up to $1.1 billion per year between 2020 and 2049, ANU co-author Professor Matthew Gray said.

Identifying bushfires as soon as possible — within 30-60 minutes of ignition — helps dictate the scale and threat of major fires, chances for containment and the economic impact.

The ANU Bushfire Initiative’s Dr Marta Yebra is leading an ambitious long-term project to build satellite capacity to automatically identify bushfires within 60 seconds of ignition, with the hope of extinguishing accessible fires within five minutes.

This fire season, a trial in the ACT will see smoke and heat ground sensors, elevated cameras and high altitude balloons deployed to quickly identify fires — in concert with satellite imagery from NASA and Japan.

Read the full article on The Mercury website, featuring research by Dr Marta Yerba and others from The Australian National University