Early wildfire detection system wins Analog Devices Hackathon

Devastation from California Wildfires inspires winning team
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Staff from Analog Devices at the Analog Devices Catalyst in Limerick. Image: Brian Arthur

9 May 2022

An early wildfire detection system won the fifth annual Analog Devices Hackathon, which set out to examine how the company’s technology could be used to combat climate change.

During the two-day hackathon in Analog Devices Catalyst, 70 people from across the company’s three sites in Ireland gathered to collaborate, research and design innovative solutions to mitigate the climate crisis and address real world challenges that would benefit future generations.

Adam Fahy, Sinead O’Dowd, Souvik Kundu, Enda Kilgarrif, Brian McCarthy, and Emma O’Donovan impressed the judges when they presented a comprehensive technology and sustainable business solution that could have far-reaching benefits for forestation worldwide. 

 

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While the primary value of the proposed solution is in the early detection of fires and reducing their spread, the team said another benefit is the reduction of deforestation as current measures like controlled burns could be avoided.

Explaining the context and inspiration for their proposal, team member Adam Fahy said: “Year on year the wildfires in California are becoming more deadly and destructive. In 2018 alone, over 1.9 million acres were destroyed, 68 million tons of carbon dioxide was released – that’s twice Germany’s annual emissions, and over 100 people were killed. With current detection measures, which include satellites and watch towers, it can take up to two to four hours for fire fighters to reach a scene. By this time, a fire has significantly increased in size and takes weeks to get under control.”

 “If a fire is detected in two minutes it will require 10 litres of water to extinguish, if detected in 10 minutes it can take 1,000 litres,” added Brian McCarthy. “The amount of water required to extinguish wildfires is another climate change issue.”

Outlining the solution, Fahy said, “We designed a mesh network of nodes that could be distributed across a forest to detect the potential for and presence of fire. Using a fusion of sensors to measure temperature, humidity and carbon monoxide, the nodes would communicate with each other and back to a station using LoRa transmitters. An online dashboard would allow park rangers or forest owners to detect areas at risk or points of origin in real-time allowing firefighters to be despatched to the right location at a much faster pace.”

The winning team’s proposal went beyond the technology solution also setting out a sustainable business model through annual subscriptions.

Analog Devices will now examine the feasibility of developing the winning concept into a solution for actual deployment.

Ten teams, made up of representatives from a wide variety of functions and skill sets within ADI, pitched their ideas to the judging panel on the second afternoon of the hackathon.

Other concepts included a wireless data centre management system for energy reduction (11% of all electricity in Ireland was consumed in datacentres), a methane capture to energy system, a smart microgrid system that drives efficient use of energy in local communities and a smart occupancy detection that can be retrofitted to existing houses to drive efficient heating systems.

Donal McAuliffe, hackathon project manager, Analog Devices, said: “We were impressed with the creativity of the solutions and how the teams took the time to identify the issues first. This is how the innovation process starts and reflects the R&D process at Analog Devices. We were particularly struck by the passion and motivation from all participants. The theme of climate action resonated with everyone.”

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