CCG held Think Tank “Rural fires: an approach using information technologies”

The Centro de Computação Gráfica (CCG) held a Think Tank session, dedicated to the theme of rural fires, on October 31st, at its facilities, at the Azurém Campus of the University of Minho, in Guimarães.

This session brought together about 40 representatives from various institutions, from public agencies to private companies, to discuss how to apply the new information technologies in the fight against rural fires. The event sat at the table Suppliers of technology/services, City Councils, Firefighters, Civil Protection, Associations of Forest Producers, Companies and other entities of administration/territory management.

Some of the top experts in your area were present and had the opportunity to express their ideas and formulate possible solutions. It might have been one of the first times that so many and varied entities have been assembled to discuss this problem that remains seemingly without solutions.

Challenges in rural fires

After presenting the work of the CCG / UMC to the participants, three discussion groups were formed, dividing the groups into three different spaces, to discuss multiple and interesting technological issues related to the protection of rural fires.

The starting points for the discussion were:

  • Why do the fires continue to be an inevitability?
  • What are the main problems to be faced?
  • Who can be the agents of change?
  • How can technology contribute to find solutions?

Solutions and conclusions of the Think Tank

It was up to the UMC – Urban and Mobile Computing, the applied research domain of the CCG intrinsically linked to mobile devices and urban computing, to strengthen the technological potential to find solutions in this serious theme.

Concerning technologies, the use of drones and sensors in the forests and in the rural perimeter, the use of satellites, adaptation and densification of meteorological stations, crowdsensing solutions, for example, were discussed. Data interpretation between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics was also analyzed.

Issues such as the current legislation, the SIRESP, the proliferation of forest monocultures, the existence of a lot of dispersed, non-centralized information, without interoperability between the different parties involved, were discussed, reinforcing that the quality and reliability of the information falls short of the wanted. With a constantly changing territory, questions arise as to who is updating information and how. It is urgent to build a more automatic and democratic information platform with more reliable and more current data.

Another need is the awareness of the population in general, from schools to owners, to fire prevention and to the monetization of land. True education is offered to people, especially to the young. The prior training of technicians and the various agents involved was also seen as being of great importance.

One of the most evident conclusions was the existence of actions to be taken in the before, during and after fires. All very important and crucial. Being that it was consensual that the biggest bet should be placed in the before.

The communication difficulties between the various actors involved in the fight are manifested. Placing qualified people with technology to combat rural fires could greatly increase the efficiency of the process and thus minimize losses.

The quality of the discussions provided by the excellent technical level of the various participants resulted in the consensual need to hold technical meetings in order to concretely work on solutions to these major challenges. There is no promise for a solution to the fires that will always exist, as they have always existed. But there is a lot to do and technology can be a catalyst for various solutions.

This action has the co-financing of the Operational Program Norte2020, and European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund, in the context of actions Transfer of Scientific and Technological Knowledge of the CCG.