How drones can help save countries from wildfire menace – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with nations galvanising most of their resources towards it, the wildfires have also brought destruction to many nations across continents, particularly the US.
Wildfires on average have burned 8.8 million acres in the US from 2017 to 2020, according to data published by National Interagency Coordination Center, the agency that oversees all interagency coordination activities throughout the United States.
The devastation this year too has been huge. The Dixie Fire in northern California has grown to become the second-largest wildfire in state history. The wildfires in Italy, Greece and Turkey have burned 568,000 acres this year already, according to data from Nasa. And 343 megatonnes of carbon have been released in the environment due to the wildfires, as per a report from The Guardian.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had to apologise on Monday for failures in tackling the devastating wildfires that have burned across Greece. (Reuters photo)
While many options are being worked upon to meet this threat, such as a return to the indigenous practices, a Los Angeles-based company’s tech could offer a helping hand in the fight against the wildfires.
KSI Data Sciences is a company that has developed technology that enables delivery of live footage collected by drones and other devices from remote areas.
“We have always worked on the hypothesis that the only value for drones is really for the data they produce,” said Jon Gaster, founder of KSI Data Sciences, in an interaction with Timesofindia.com.
The idea behind the venture is enabling effective and collaborative decision-making in distress, something which can be definitely helpful in emergencies such as wildfire.
So the company has built a technology called Mission Keeper, accessible both on mobiles and desktops, which allows for live streaming of drone footage via its app. It takes the video from the drone controller and uses cloud storage and then streams it for wider access.
A feature that sets it apart is there being no limit on the number of users that can watch or stream these videos.
“You may have an incident where suddenly I need to invite people from many different agencies to see what’s going on. Wildfire is a perfect example. And therefore you cannot get to the point where well, due to low latency, you can only support five users,” said Gaster.
Gaster, a graduate from London School of Economics, came up with the idea for KSI while working with a start up in the early 200s which was working with the US government on video footage from drones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Learning from the challenges faced during this stint, Gaster set up KSI in 2015 to tap into the market.
The application allows the user to view multiple videos, chat features, the option of archiving a set of videos and data for future use.
The company is in talks with the Los Angeles Fire department for the use of its technology. The Fire Department, New York is also testing KSI’s systems. It’s also part of First Net – the nationwide network built for America’s first responders and also plans to start working in Canada and Germany.
While the company’s hardware solution could potentially help in firefighting, the company’s operations are not limited to it, with uses ranging from agriculture to site inspections.





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