Artificial intelligence in the fight against forest fires: Two innovative programs of the National Observatory of Athens

Artificial intelligence in the fight against forest fires: Two innovative programs of the National Observatory of Athens

FILE PHOTO: A helicopter tries to put out a fire. APE-MBE, GEETHA PRESS OFFICE, STR

Artificial intelligence enters the battle to prevent and treat forest fires through innovative programs that have been developed, whose coordinator is the National Observatory of Athens.

These are two innovative programs “Deep Cube” and “SeasFire” which started in January 2021 and March 2022 respectively and through the use of artificial intelligence technologies they seek to assess the risk of forest fires in different ways.

As pointed out to the Athenian-Macedonian press agency Yannis Papoutsis, researcher appointed to the National Observatory of Athens, to the Institute of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, newly elected to the NTUA, “the goal of Deep Cube is to use a very large wealth of satellite data available now, freely and freely combined with artificial intelligence technologies to be able to extract new information from satellite data”.

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 specifies in reference to the start of the fire season today.

Last year, the specific program operated as a pilot for Greece, but this year its application has been extended to the entire Mediterranean.

“As a country and as an institution (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 the innovative program, we are trying 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. every time” says Mr. Papoutsis adding:

“That’s because it’s hard to model, so we’re trying to train an artificial intelligence system to learn all of these complex, non-linear interactions between all of these parameters. This can happen by leveraging historical data. We let’s let a model take those parameters as input and based on the burnt area history learn those complex interrelationships. And after we train that model, we put it into production.”

“Every day we collect all these parameters and make an estimate for the next day”, notes Mr. Papoutsis to the APE-MBE and adds the important contribution of firefighters to this project.

Based on the “Deep Cube”, the research team of the Orion Laboratory of IAADET/EAA proceeded after one year, in March 2022, to the development of a second pioneering program of “SeasFire” financed by the Agency European space.

“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,” he says.

“A basic assumption that we make is the butterfly effect, which is that something that happened in the past, in another part of the planet, can affect what will happen here and now, and that’s because it’s a big system interconnected with natural resources. Processes that influence each other, at different spatial and temporal distances. These are teleconnections,” Papoutsis points out to the APE-MBE, adding:

“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, what is happening in Africa, what is happening is happening earlier in other regions of the planet to be able to predict what is going to happen this summer. MPE.

Prevention of 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 that exploit artificial intelligence and satellite data will gain the trust of business people. So we must build trust and understanding in these tools, in order to be able to use them in a way operational,” 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 have very good results also in terms of the use of artificial intelligence in the whole phase of the management cycle fires,” says Mr. Papoutsis, emphasizing:

“Such applications will continue to come out and are already coming out of the scientific community, the question is how they will be included in 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 the management of natural disasters. This is another matter and concerns national policy and a phase of systematic evaluation as well as co-development of certain services”.

With information from the APE-MPE
Athens, Greece


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