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Wifi sensors to tackle bushfires

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


A network of inexpensive fire monitoring sensors positioned throughout bush land could be the latest early-warning system in the fight against fires.

Researchers from ECU's Centre for Communications Engineering Research (CCER) have taken sensors and equipped them with wireless communication technology. Placed throughout an area of bush, the sensors take readings of temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide levels as well as air contaminants.

When smoke from a fire is detected, the sensors can instantly alert fire authorities via wireless internet connection or a text message to a mobile phone, providing accurate GPS information.

Professor Daryoush Habibi, Dr Iftekhar Ahmad and Mr Amro Qandour developed the sensor network as part of the research they have been conducting into engineering applications that serve the local community.

“Bushfire is a major problem right across the nation. We wanted to serve our communities by finding a solution to the bushfire detection problem,” Dr Ahmad said.

“The sensors have the capability to transmit data over long distances, allowing for large geographical areas or remote regions to be covered.”

CCER are in the final phase of testing the devices and hope to team up with an industry partner to make the monitoring system available to fire authorities.

 “Our priority is to have this system available for authorities. We hope to work with them in the near future to help protect our environment and human life from what can be devastating, and unfortunately, all too frequent occurrences,” Dr Ahmad said.

The CCER team have developed two other environmental monitoring systems that they also hope to make commercially available.

One monitors air quality within the home and identifies high levels of potentially fatal gases such as nitrous oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and natural gas. Similar to the bushfire monitoring system, an alarm can be triggered or a text message sent.

The CCER team envisage that retirement villages could use the system to safeguard elderly residents against faulty heaters or gas stoves.

Another monitoring system measures the ultra violet (UV) index. This system could be utilised by surf lifesaving clubs across Australia, who could provide real-time UV readings on display screens or send the information as an alert to the mobile phones of beach goers.


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