Open Climate Tech is a non-profit organization focused on building open source technologies that have the potential to help mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
Wildfires are getting more destructive over time due to many factors including climate change. Besides the devastating impact on lives and property, wildfires also release significant amount of carbon back into the atmosphere, thus speeding up climate change even further. Depending on the location situation, sometimes it is better in the long-term to let fires burn, while at other times it's better to extinguish the fires as soon as possible. This project does not have any opinion on determining the optimal action for each fire. The goal of this project is to automatically detect wildfires in their initial phase, so the authorities responsible for wildfires can take appropriate action while the fire is still small and easy to manage.
This project uses machine learning to identify potential smoke from wildfires using real-time images from images installed on vantage points, such as mountain tops. The information about the potential wildfires are then sent to website for people to check and confirm whether they are real fires. This system has successfully detected some fires before authorities were aware of them, but the system also generates some false notificatons. Therefore, it is useful to have people review the notificatons. This system monitors more than a hundred cameras continuously, and usually generates less than 50 notifications a day. Doing the same task without such a system would require a large group of people to continuously stare at real-time images coming from a hundred cameras and maintain high vigilence throughout. That is the main impediment why these cameras are currently not used for detection, but only for verifying reports and for monitoring known fires.
This article describes some lessons learned while operating the system.
The site also allows users to vote on each notificaton to indicate whether it was a real fire or not. The events where the majority of the users confirm a real fire are displayed on a separate Confirmed Fires tab. The votes are also helpful for improving the system by retraining the machine learning system with new images. Users can also specify a desired geographical region to limit the notifications to those that may overlap the specified region. The source code for the wildfire checking website is available is available on Github.Check potential wildfires
Open Climate Tech, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was formally founded in 2020. Although technology alone can't fix all the problems made worse by climate change, we believe technology can help mitigate some of the adverse effects. The projects supported by this organization are developed by volunteers, and we welcome enthusiastic contributors interested in joining existing projects or starting new projects. We believe that open sourcing the technology helps collaboration with other groups and encourages volunteers. All code should have an open source license.
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