According to Joint Research Centre to European Commission (https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2018-11/task_11_forest_fires_final_v1_revised.pdf), forests are around 33 % of the EU’s total land area. In recent years large forest fires have repeatedly affected Europe, in particular Mediterranean countries. The danger of forest fires will increase with unmitigated climate change. In 2021, fires were observed in 39 countries, burning 1 113 464 ha as mapped by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) (https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/jrc-news/eu-2021-wildfire-season-was-second-worst-record-finds-new-commission-report-2022-03-21_en).
Healthy and resilient forests are a key part of efforts to combat the negative impacts of climate change. Studies have shown trees can reduce temperatures by 9 degrees and energy costs by $7.8 billion a year (https://www.weforum.org/press/2020/08/us-businesses-governments-and-non-profits-join-global-push-for-1-trillion-trees/).
Often the forest terrains are rugged and uneven, difficult to reach and not covered by 3G / 4G / 5G communication.
The objective of the 4F project is to create a solution for monitoring of Earth Observation data for detection/measurement purposes, before, during and after a forest fire. Measured parameters are related to the climate changes and their level of correlation to the forest fire management parameters and procedures. The 4F drone-based sensor system is applicable for all types of terrains, incl. rugged and uneven ones, and for all phases of the wildfires - prevention, detection and restoration after a fire. 4F solution consists of:
- communication gateway mounted on drone
- sensors for temperature, humidity and particle matters mounted on a drone
- sensors for soil (or biomass) moistures and temperature, installed in forest
- IoT SW platform for collection and processing of sensor data and allowing data visualization, intended for forest fire risk analyses and management at prevention, detection and restoration phases.
4F is based on wireless LPWAN sensor network, where the central communication device called “gateway” is installed on a drone. If the gateway is located on the earth surface, then communication between it and the sensors will be impossible due to the presence of rocks, uneven terrain and dense foliage, which prevent the propagation of radio waves in horizontal direction. But if the gateway rises in height, then it will be able easily to collect data from all sensors within a radius of several kilometres.
Most often, the land surface in forests lacks coverage of 3G / 4G / 5G communication networks and this prevents the communication between the gateway and the software IoT platform that collects data from the sensors. But when the drone rises above the ground and flies over a wide area, the gateway can get good coverage of the 3G / 4G / 5G network and transmit the collected data to the IoT platform.
4F is an example of applying existing technology in a new area, i.e. application of wireless LPWAN sensor network for the phases of prevention and detection of forest fires and restoration after them.
The research and development leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Program “UFO project” under Grant Agreement 873411.
The written above is only the author’s views. The European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.