A ‘smoke alarm for the bush’ could help the Sunshine Coast during bushfire season, with the new world-leading tool to help safeguard people, properties and the region’s natural assets.
Developed by local company exci (formerly Fireball International), this AI-assisted program analyses satellite images and on-ground cameras to swiftly spot heat and smoke.
exci, meaning ‘alarm’ in Latin, already has been used to great effect in wildfire-ravaged California in the US. Once a fire is detected, emergency services and local councils will receive immediate reports and can consider an appropriate response in consultation with partner agencies.
Local Disaster Management Group chair and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson are welcoming the announcement for this potentially life-saving technology. Mayor Jamieson made the announcement at the launch of Get Ready Queensland Week, which ran from October 9 to 16.
The week encourages residents to know their risk, prepare contingency plans and pack an emergency kit. While previous seasons have focused on storms and flood risks, the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting this one to bring heatwaves and threat of severe bushfires due to the El Niño weather pattern.
Cr Jamieson says the roll-out of the bushfire detection system in the region is the result of a collaboration between Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, HQ Plantations and Powerlink, as well as Sunshine Coast-based businesses exci and Land Watch Australia.
“Council’s primary focus is to ensure the safety of our communities and exci’s sophisticated system will help us rapidly respond to bushfire threats,” he says.
“The swift arrival of our firefighters can be the difference between an easily contained minor incident and a major bushfire that can lead to extensive destruction.”
exci managing director Christopher Tylor says he is pleased to deliver an Australian-made and owned fire detection system for the Coast.
“The exci system can automatically detect bushfires within minutes, using satellite and ground-based sensor data analysed by powerful, machine-learning algorithms,” he says.
Mr Tylor says exci will collaborate with Land Watch Australia, a family-owned business located in Palmwoods, known for delivering remote, camera-surveillance solutions to Australian farmers and rural communities.
“Their expertise in crafting rugged terrain-specific camera systems aligns with our wildfire detection technology, making them the ideal hardware partner for us,” Mr Tylor says.
“exci and Land Watch Australia have begun installing cameras at new sites located at Gerrards Lookout at Maleny, Dulong Lookout and Mount Coolum.”
Sunshine Coast residents can take steps to help safeguard their family, home and business before and during major weather events. This includes understanding your risk, preparing an emergency plan and packing an emergency kit. For a full list, head to getready.qld.gov.au. For the latest updates, practical resources and what to do before, during and after an emergency, visit disasterhub.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.