The Forest Scribe

Indonesia Tries out Round-the-clock Early Forest and Ground Fire Detection System

Long plagued by annual forest and ground fires that have contributed to the rapid deforestation of the country’s forest cover, Indonesia is now focusing heavily on prevention and early reaction to curb the calamity and is now trying out a round-the-clock, on-the-ground, internet-based fire detection system.

”For Indonesia, especially the MoEF (The Ministry of Environment and Forestry),we have installed our insigthFD besides their regional Manggala Agni offices and we plan to expand our InsightFD coverage,” said Diwantara Sebastian from Insight Robotics Ltd.

The Insight FD, is a fire detection system that relies on stationary thermal and visual smoke detectors that can work with minimal human assistance and can provide warnings that can be accessed and controlled by those with the authority to do so, through an internet browser. The fire detection system was developed by Hong Kong-based Insight Robotics.

 “Next year, the MoEF also plans to integrate the fire spots from our InsightFD into their Sipongi system,” Sebastian added, referring to the ministry’s forest and ground fire monitoring system based mainly on satellite imaging and accessible through the web.

Under the ministry’s program to implement an integrated Forestry Prevention Patrol program, InsightFD camera systems were installed in 15 locations in provinces in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java, said the website of the Global Distributor, Roboticscats. 

It also said that more than fifty people from the regional Manggala Agni offices took part in a two day online training on the InsightFD system in April 2020. 

Sebastian said that InsightFD was a system where cameras with thermal and visual smoke detection capabilities were installed on stationary towers and were able to detect smoke from fire within 15 kilometers.

“For the fixed system, that we call InsightFD, the tower specification depends on the tower location, whether it is on a flat surface or up in the hill. Our suggested tower height would be around 20 meter above the surrounding treetops, he said.

Such towers would be able to detect thermal sources as small as two square meters from five kilometres away or for smoke columns that are at least 20 meters above soil, the detection area reaches up to 15 kilometres.

He added however that rain or fog could affect thermal measurement by the sensor and together with haze could also affect visual detection of smoke columns.

Sebastian said that the first test to obtain a Proof of Concept in Indonesia was held a private timber estate in Riau in April 2016, a test that was also attended by then Director of Forest and Land Fire Control of the Ministry of Environment, Raffles B. Panjaitan.

“We have designed our InsightFD so that it can work automatically with minimum human assistance and as our software is being prepared for access through an internet browser, this enables an authorized user to control the InsightFD as long as it has Internet access and also has a Public IP,” Sebastian said.

He said that Robotics Cats was also to launch sometimes this month an application for iPhones that would enable the detection of smoke as far as 2.5 kilometers away. The application, ReportFire, is expected to be available through Apple Store in the third week of October, he added.

“We built it because we want to help. The coronavirus outbreak has postponed new InsightFD deployments. We don’t know when the pandemic will end, but we know climate change will continue to bring devastating forest fires. It will be disastrous if the double whammy of coronavirus and wildfire strike at the same time!” Sebastian said.

He said that amid the new normal of social distancing, Robotics Cats wanted to provide the means to mitigate wildfire risks and damages even if more InsightFD deployments were postponed.

The company would first evaluate feedback from the use of the iPhone-based application before deciding whether to work on a similar model for android cellphones.

Sebastian said that accuracy wise on average the thermal and visual smoke detectors scored at more than 90 percent, and he added that similar smoke detectors had already been installed and operated in Hong Kong, China, Mexico and Portugal.

“We can do detection 24/7 in any kind of weather conditions,” he said, when asked what the main advantage of InsightFD was compared to other fire detection technology.

He added that for InsightFD, the fire location information was provided in a 3-D map and the system had minimum operational expenditure as well as risks. The system was also almost free of human bias, he said.

Meanwhile, in ReportFires the information would take the form of estimated 2D hotspot location, with longitude and latitude coordinates as well as a visual image.

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