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Cubesat to help Australia predict bushfires

Australia is currently developing its first cubesat, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm cubic units, designed to predict where bushfires are likely to start and those that will be difficult to contain.

The development will take place at The Australian National University’s (ANU) Mt Stromlo campus, led by remote-sensing expert Dr Marta Yebra and instrument scientist Dr Rob Sharp.

For this project, the ANU Institute for Space (InSpace) has awarded AU$1 million (approximately US$665k) to the team to build an optical system that can detect changes on the ground through infrared detectors on-board the satellite. The ANU team will partner with other researchers and the private sector to complete the project and launch the new satellite into low-Earth orbit.

The new satellite will accurately measure forest fuel load and vegetation moisture levels across Australia. The technology will be specifically tuned to detect changes in Australian plants and trees such as eucalyptus, which are highly flammable.

With this mission the team will receive high-resolution infrared images and data of fuel conditions that will help firefighters on the ground, said Dr Yebra, an InSpace Mission Specialist from the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Research School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering at ANU.

This infrared technology and data, which is not currently available, will help to target controlled-burns that can reduce the frequency and severity of bushfires, as well as their long-term impacts on Australia’s people, economy, and environment, she added.

This satellite will be the first in a constellation of remote sensing satellites that will monitor Australia’s environment. The constellation will be designed to have a positive impact on Australia’s property management, insurance, geological, agriculture and defence industries.

The team will gradually build up the capacity to monitor these bushfire risks in Australia. At first, they are focusing on long-term monitoring. Within the next five years, they plan to be able to monitor changes to the landscape and environment in real-time.

Pushing forward critical event management tech

The new solution is an excellent example of CEM technology. As regions and countries across the world battle wildfires and other natural calamities, Everbridge’s public warning solutions have been developed to significantly aid the mitigation of harm caused by such critical events.

Australia also recently deployed another CEM solution. OpenGov Asia reported that the operator of the suburban passenger rail network serving the city of Sydney in New South Wales launched a safety, security and emergency management platform called CriticalArc’s SafeZone. The system will help mitigate risks to staff and customers and strengthen its capacity to respond to incidents and emergencies.

SafeZone will put up to 2,500 front-line staff at more than 175 stations directly in touch with security control room teams, letting them summon immediate assistance at the touch of a button and receive an optimised response via their assigned smartphone.

This will also provide the operator with real-time situational awareness and a more complete picture of critical events, supporting security management functions, such as sending targeted alerts to specific individuals and groups and enabling control room operators to pinpoint the location of individuals needing help.

The Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Everbridge stated noted that the company’s proprietary Public Warning solution enables government organizations and public safety agencies to immediately connect with every person in an affected area during a critical event regardless of nationality, residency or mobile telephone handset type.

He also noted that Australia is a model example for population-wide alerting and emergency preparedness over the past decade, and the firm was honoured to support them on the evolution of their national system.

Critical event management has come to the fore with the pandemic. Forecasting, planning and management of critical events help organisations and authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property.

Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other. According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, this siloed approach can create duplication in information and processes, data contradictions and, when unchecked, could lead to loss of life and damages.

Everbridge’s Coronavirus Preparedness can make a significant difference in mitigating harm caused by the pandemic. They provide richer intelligence and correlating threats with locations of assets and people ensuring more rapid and comprehensive incident assessment and remediation.

With the pandemic forecast to be around for some time, planning responses to adverse events must continue alongside COVID-19 management. In light of this, it is expedient for governments to re-look at their systems, tools, processes and platforms they have in place to manage critical events.

October 28, 2020 | 10:30AM IST | 1:00PM SG/HKT | 4:00PM AEST


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