Artificial intelligence in the fight against forest fires – The innovative programs of the National Observatory

Artificial intelligence in the fight against forest fires – The innovative programs of the National Observatory

In the battle for the prevention and treatment of forestry fires artificial intelligence enters through innovative programs that have been developed, whose coordinator is the Athens National Observatory.

These are two innovative programs in “deep cube” And “SeasFirelaunched in January 2021 and March 2022 respectively and through the use of artificial intelligence technologies, seek to assess the risk of forest fires in different ways.

As pointed out to the Athenian-Macedonian press agency by the researcher appointed to the National Observatory of Athens, to the Institute of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, newly elected to the NTUA , Yannis Papoutsisthe purpose of Deep Cube is to exploit a very large wealth of satellite data available today, freely and freely in combination with artificial intelligence technologies to be able to extract new information from satellite data“, and adds that in Deep Cube there are various technologies and applications, one of which is forest fire risk assessment for the next day.”It is an application that we have developed in collaboration with the firefighters“, he said on the occasion of today’s start of the firefighting season.

Last year’s specific program served as a pilot for Greece however, this year its application has been extended to the entire Mediterranean. “As a country and as an organization (National Observatory of Athens) we have innovated, we are among the first. We will also develop it for other countries, within the framework of other programs that have been requested of us, in Spain for example, and we will also do it for the whole of the Mediterranean.“, he underlines.

Through this innovative program we try to solve the problem of risk prevention, which is complex and multidimensional because it is a series of environmental and other parameters that interact with each other, increasing or decreasing the risk Everytime. It’s because it’s hard to model so we try to train an AI system to learn all these complex and non-linear interactions between all these parameters. This can happen by leveraging historical data. We let a model take these parameters as input and based on the history of the burned areas learn these complex interrelationships. And then after we train that model, we put it into production. On a daily basis we collect all these parameters and make an estimate for the next day“, notes Mr. Papoutsis to the APE-MPE and adds the important contribution of firefighters to this project.

Guided by the “Deep Cube”, the Orion Lab research group of IAADET/EAA proceeded after one year, in March 2022, to the development of a second pioneering program of “SeasFire”. which was funded by the European Space Agency. “SeasFire” studies forest fire risk assessment but on a different time scale, 2, 3, 4, 5 months from today. “After DeepCube, we had the courage to go further and see how we can use artificial intelligence to predict the frequency and intensity of forest fires in Europe in the long term. A basic assumption that we make is the butterfly effect, that is, something that happened in the past, in another part of the planet, can affect what will happen here and now, and that is because it is a large interconnected system with natural processes that affect each other at varying spatial and temporal distances. These are teleconnections. That’s what we’re trying to model in SeasFire and we’re focusing on Europe, but in order to be able to assess seasonal fire risk in Europe, we need to get information about what’s happening in the Atlantic Ocean, that what is happening in Africa, what is happening in other parts of the planet in the past to be able to predict what will happen this summer. It’s his novelty», stresses Mr. Papoutsis at the APE-MPE.

Artificial intelligence can help prevent natural disasters

According to Mr. Papoutsis, the scientific community is rapidly advancing in the direction of using artificial intelligence to prevent these phenomena. “The question is how all these technological tools leveraging artificial intelligence and satellite data will earn the trust of companies. Therefore, trust and understanding of these tools must be established before they can be used operationally.“, notes Mr. Papoutsis.

In recent years, it seems that artificial intelligence has been increasingly used by the scientific community in combination with climatological and satellite data. “There is a lot of mobility and it shows that artificial intelligence can offer a lot. In the coming years, we will also have very good results in terms of the use of artificial intelligence in the whole phase of the fire management cycle. Such applications will continue to come out and are already coming out of the scientific community, the question is how they will be integrated into an operational plan or a response based on the protocols that the Civil Protection, the Fire Brigade, the OASP or the other bodies responsible for managing natural disasters. This is another matter and concerns national policy and a systematic evaluation phase as well as the co-development of certain services.“, underlines Mr. Papoutsis.

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