Innovation That Matters

Dryad is making it easier to detect wildfires early | Photo source Malcahi Brooks on Unsplash

Ultra-early wildfire detection


A sensor uses AI to detect abnormal patterns of gas that act as an early indicator of fire

Spotted: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US experienced record-breaking numbers of droughts and heatwaves in 2021, fuelling wildfires across the country. The resulting erosion and flooding created a positive feedback-loop that further contributed to the intensity of the fires. While there are many factors that contribute to what makes a wildfire, it’s estimated that 85 per cent of all wildfires are man-made. Due to their complex nature, it’s extremely difficult to predict when and where wildfires will occur. However, researchers are exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can help detect early signs of a fire. 

Dryad Networks is a Berlin-based startup that is on a mission to help firefighters respond to fires sooner. The company has developed Silvanet, a solar-powered sensing system that detects abnormal patterns of gas in the air using artificial intelligence (AI). This allows for ultra-early detection of wildfires, in as little as 30 to 60 minutes, giving firefighters a critical head start in tackling the blaze.

In order to bring Silvanet to market, Dryad has partnered with Semtech Corporation, a global leader in semiconductor solutions, and Swarm Technologies, a developer of satellite communications networks. The sensor is designed for use in remote areas where there is no mobile coverage. It receives data from Swarm’s network of 120 satellites in real-time, enabling a faster response to potential hazards. The satellite radio connectivity also allows the Silvanet gateway to be used in areas where there is no cellular coverage. With its built-in support for satellite radio connectivity, Dryad’s Silvanet gateway provides a comprehensive solution for remote monitoring and data transmission.

The resulting system has the potential to be reliable, scalable, and affordable – making it an invaluable tool in the fight against wildfires. A forest near Berlin has seen Dryad launch its first network. And the company reports that there are currently ten other proof of concept deployments in the US, Europe, Australia, Indonesia, and Africa. 

With the threat of fire intensifying and threatening new regions, Springwise has spotted a plethora of innovations that aim to mitigate the problem. These include an AI-mapping tool that helps firefighters map burn risk and a hybrid drone for carrying firefighting equipment.

Written By: Katrina Lane



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