Artificial intelligence used to monitor bushfires in New Forests’ South Australian managed plantation estates
In an Australian first, artificial intelligence will be used in South Australia’s Green Triangle forestry region to monitor for bushfires, using new camera detection technology. The cameras will be operational for much of the 2023-24 bushfire season and will be fitted to existing fire monitoring towers. Once installed they will cover approximately 15,000 hectares of the estate.
American tech company Pano AI has been selected to build the fire-monitoring infrastructure, using cameras, satellite technology and AI to continuously watch plantation areas.
Green Triangle Fire Alliance chair, and New Forests’ Limestone estate property manager Mike Lawson of SFM said early detection of fires was vital to the future of the industry.
“At the moment we have to go through the process of communicating the fire back, it goes through the emergency services system and then we’re paged,” he said.
If we can cut that time back and get resources out to those plantations quicker, then we’re going to save a lot of valuable plantation.
Detections will be confirmed by a person, who will send out an alert to emergency services. As Mike says, “We use AI that’s applied to ultra-HD cameras that’s continuously getting a full panorama of the environment.
“We then use a smoke detection algorithm to work out exactly where the fire is and see how it’s behaving, so you can get resources to that incident quickly”.
The new camera system detects bushfires in their early stages, before they can cause major damage to plantations and infrastructure. The AI system can understand where it is relative to structures and other assets, enabling a much faster on the ground response.
New Forests expects that the system will ultimately reduce the incidence of damaging fires, protecting people, plantations and property in the region – a win for everyone involved.