The latest in bushfire detection cameras are being trialled in parts of New South Wales and Victoria.
The technology has been developed by the German Aerospace Centre and is able to tell the difference between smoke and dust even at night. Each camera is able to monitor approximately 10,000 square kilometres, scanning 360-degrees every six minutes non-stop.
The trial started mid-February in the Otway Ranges in Victoria and near Tumut in New South Wales and will run until the end of April, with a possible one month extension depending on prevailing conditions.
The cameras have been in use for nearly a decade in Germany and aim to provide exact information on where a fire is, how big it is and how fire fighters can get to it in the shortest possible time before it becomes an inferno.
The trial will be conducted in two parts, with locations chosen to provide broad area coverage and the opportunity for controlled testing where appropriate. Cameras for the trial will be provided through three private contractors, including Firewatch, Eyefi and Forestwatch.
In New South Wales, one camera will be trialled at Mt Tumorrama in the Tumut region under ‘controlled conditions’ which will include test burning to evaluate the performance of the system under simulated conditions.
In Victoria, four cameras will be trialled in the Otway Ranges at Mt Porndon, Crows Nest Lookout, Peters Hill and Mt Cowley under ‘real conditions’ without the use of controlled burning.
The Australian Government will fund the trial, estimated to cost $3 million, with coordination and facilitation provided by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments.
The Bushfire Cooperative Research Council (CRC) will monitor and evaluate the trial by comparing the effectiveness of different camera systems and examining their ability to accurately detect fires, avoid false detections, and their potential to be integrated into existing emergency management processes including, for example, providing timely warnings to the community.
This analysis will enable the technology to be evaluated against other existing bushfire detection systems including fire spotters in towers or planes, public reports through the triple-zero service, or through satellite systems.