As the climate crisis worsens, countries around the world are witnessing warmer weather with minimal or non-existent rainfall — making natural disasters like wildfires increasingly common.
In 2023 alone, warm, dry weather has contributed to several wildfires across the US and Europe, with the most recent instances occurring in Greece and Hawaii, where hundreds have suffered injuries or lost their lives and homes, and land has been destroyed.
Experts believe these wildfires will continue to wreak havoc on the world even if climate change mitigation efforts ramp up, with a 2022 United Nations report predicting that the likelihood of catastrophic wildfire events will increase by a factor of 1.31 to 1.57 by the end of the century.
Fortunately, electronics manufacturers have assisted with the development of numerous technology-driven solutions helping provide safer, easier and more cost-effective ways to detect and control wildfires, as well as prevent them from occurring in the first place…
Devices that have taken the electronics manufacturing industry by storm — sensors — are being used to detect signs a wildfire is developing that are invisible to the naked eye, with their ability to monitor precise changes in everything from soil temperature and humidity to luminosity.
When connected to the internet of things (IoT), sensors can provide firefighting teams with real-time data to be used in rapid investigations that help manage impending wildfires before they cause damage. So, time and money are saved on firefighting tasks and communities are better protected.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, are being fitted with thermal imaging technology to provide live insights into wildfire outbreak areas that planes and helicopters cannot access — helping inform more accurate mitigation tactics over a wider affected area.
Not only this, but firefighting teams have also leveraged remote-controlled drones to put out flames, using hoses on the devices to spray water onto wildfires. This technology means fewer people are put at risk on site, helping protect human lives and minimise firefighting risks.
With help from built-in cameras and retardants, human-controlled robots, which are being sent into the heart of burning terrain and flame-engulfed buildings to put out fires and provide equipment to affected civilians, are stepping in for firefighters when wildfires are too severe for them to enter.
Now, robots are ensuring wildfire mitigation efforts can continue even in dire situations — preventing casualties. In the future, it’s thought that electronics manufacturers will combine robots with artificial intelligence (AI), allowing them to operate independently and efficiently.
Promising to help monitor wildfire signs from above is the innovative Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit (FUEGO), which uses satellites that orbit around the Earth to detect even the earliest indications that an outbreak is coming and trigger rapid firefighting responses.
Although this technology is only in the development stage, FUEGO could help scientists realise patterns in wildfire outbreaks, informing strategies to keep them at bay, and avoid flames spreading to uncontrollable levels, limiting the damage they can cause and minimising repair costs.
4. Virtual reality (VR)
Simulators equipped with VR technology are being used to train the next generation of firefighters via realistic renders of smoke, fire, water and fire-extinguishing foam present that are present during wildfires, but too dangerous to actually reproduce.
With experience in what it’s like to grapple with wildfires, VR-trained firefighters will be better prepared to assist when these events occur — using the best tactics to preserve greater areas of land and save more lives.
Although it is devastating to see wildfires spread so relentlessly across many parts of the globe, it is good to know that the electronics manufacturing industry is playing a part in combatting natural disasters like this. Hopefully, the technologies these companies leverage and the products they help produce will be enough to limit the impact of wildfires this year and beyond…
EMS is a global electronics manufacturing solutions provider offering a range of services from PCB box assembly to product testing. To learn more, call 01635 588 871 or email email@example.com.