Wireless to the rescue of bushfire lives

Friday, 19 February, 2010

Mobile technologies, including the global system for mobile communication (GSM) and ZigBee short-range wireless, could be used to monitor and detect bushfires, according to two research papers.

Liu Liu, Rong Sun, Ying Sun and Said Al-Sarawi of the University of Adelaide are developing a smart bushfire monitoring system that can provide an early warning message.

Their system uses the short message service carried by GSM telephones. Temperature and humidity sensors are connected to a microcontroller that is interfaced with a GPS receiver to report the module position and a GSM module to communicate the sensory information.

This offers several benefits over earlier detection and alarm systems, not least of which is that it can be adapted to different settings easily at no great expense.

In parallel work, Sun, Yuan and Al-Sarawi have also investigated the potential of ZigBee technology for smart monitoring of bushfires. The same system of sensors and monitors is hooked up to a base station via wireless ZigBee modules that feed into a wireless LAN providing the option to monitor a property or site remotely via the internet rather than receiving status alerts via SMS.

The team points out that ZigBee could also be expanded by linking modules together using a GPRS network to provide much wider coverage. This would enhance the benefits of both mobile networks and the internet in collecting data from different sources in a similar way to distributed sensory network, but with a much simpler initial set-up.

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