'Only you can prevent forest fires' ... with your smartphone

July 31, 2012
Colin Ferster tests the app on his smartphone

An app that prevents forest fires by identifying hazardous areas and that was developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia is getting tested in the BC Okanagan this summer.

Wildfires are a yearly threat in the region.  The 2003 Okanagan Mountain fire destroyed 25,000 ha of and 239 homes, and in July 2009, two fires in West Kelowna forced 12,500 residents out of their homes and destroyed three properties.

Designed by Faculty of Forestry PhD student Colin Ferster and professor Nicholas Coops, the app is designed for professionals and members of the public, such as homeowners.

Starting at the top of the trees and working down to the forest floor, the app contains images of potential fire hazards such as fallen wood, brush, or a thick carpet of needles on the forest floor. Once identified, users take pictures and upload the images, additional information and global positioning system (GPS) coordinates to a database.

Colin Ferster tests the app on his smartphone

“One of the most effective ways to reduce wildfire hazard is to reduce the amount of fuel that is available to burn,” said Ferster. “By putting this tool in hands of many people, we can collect more information about the current status of the forest, and at the same time increase awareness and cooperation, which will help reduce the threat of wildfire in the community.”

With consistent and comparable measurements at their disposal, forest managers can make timely decisions on how to best minimize fire hazard.

A field trial of the is currently underway at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna. To find out more about the project please visit: http://irsslab.forestry.ubc.ca/Research/MobileRemoteSensing.aspx

Explore further: Logging may increase fire risk

Related Stories

Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas

September 25, 2008

Most residents in fire-prone communities surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest have taken steps to protect their homes from wildland fires, according to a U.S. Forest Service study completed this summer.

Forest logging increases risk of mega fires

September 12, 2011

Logging in Victoria’s mountain ash forests is increasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, according to an expert from The Australian National University.

Controlling forest fires

February 17, 2012

Simon Fraser University statistician Rick Routledge will share his knowledge of what layers of charcoal in lake-bottom sediment can tell us about an area's forest fire history, at the world's largest science fair in Vancouver.

Refining fire behavior modeling

May 22, 2012

Research by USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station biometrician Bernie Parresol takes center stage in a special issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management due out in June. Parresol is lead author of two of ...

Recommended for you

What did Earth's ancient magnetic field look like?

June 24, 2016

New work from Carnegie's Peter Driscoll suggests Earth's ancient magnetic field was significantly different than the present day field, originating from several poles rather than the familiar two. It is published in Geophysical ...

Siberian larch forests are still linked to the ice age

June 24, 2016

Bremerhaven/Germany, 24 June 2016. The Siberian permafrost regions include those areas of the Earth, which heat up very quickly in the course of climate change. Nevertheless, biologists are currently observing only a minimal ...

Global coral bleaching event expected to last through 2016

June 21, 2016

After the most powerful El Nino on record heated the world's oceans to never-before-seen levels, huge swaths of once vibrant coral reefs that were teeming with life are now stark white ghost towns disintegrating into the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.