App helps detect veld fires

09 December 2020 | Social Issues

The Namibian Institute of Science and Technology (NUST) Faculty of Computing and Informatics (FCI) joined hands with the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, in developing a ground-breaking integrated mobile application that detects, monitors and communicates veld fires.
The prototype uses satellite data obtained from the Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) to detect and monitor fires in the study sites in Namibia and South Africa. This novel work is being pioneered by Dr Edmore Chikohora, a Senior Informatics Lecturer at FCI and Prof Amon Taruvinga, an academic from University of Fort Hare. The project is being piloted in Kavango East, Omaheke and Zambezi Regions of Namibia. These sites were selected based on the documented high frequency of veld fires.
To date, an inventory of the regions was created and geo-referenced to enhance region based burning fire identification. The identified regions were then linked to mobile phones of five personnel from City of Windhoek Fire Department (CoW-FD) for pilot testing.
In South Africa, the project is being piloted in Matatiele Local Municipality based on high frequency of veld fires during the past ten years. To date, an inventory of the municipal wards was created and geo-referenced to enhance ward based burning fire identification. These were then linked to mobile phones of veld fire stakeholders from Matatiele Local Municipality (Afred Nzo Fire Department and Matatiele Local Municipality).
When fully deployed, the mobile application system will alert communities of veld fires occurrences through their mobile phones as automated texts (SMS).
This innovative project is jointly funded by the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) in Namibia and National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa has partnered with the two universities in providing satellite data through their AFIS system that used fire detection, monitoring and advising communities on fire danger indexes.