October 20, 2010 – Africa: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has upgraded its Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) to deliver information on locations of active fires in southern and east Africa in real time, it says.
The satellite-based fire information tool, developed in collaboration with Eskom coupled with cellphone technology for distributing alert messages (or SMSs), is the first of its kind in the world, the CSIR said.
The new AFIS II uses data that is available within 10 minutes after the satellite passes overhead.
Its features mean that government departments, such as the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, civil organisations such as Working on Fire and local fire protection associations, and utilities such as Eskom, are able to set up predefined user profiles to assist them in their tasks at national, municipal and provincial levels.
“For example, Eskom receives alerts whenever fires burn within one km of their transmission lines, which may cause line faults,” the CSIR explained.
The system can provide active fire location data and it is also possible to get burnt area estimates from the satellite images.
It also integrates information on wind speed and direction from 130 automated weather stations every hour.