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Space app to help protect against bushfires

Space Industry

A mobile app to help warn and protect communities from bushfires is being developed with a little help from NASA.

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Two-man South Australian team TrentoScott – Trent Bowden and Scott Belcher – are developing their web-based application Wildfire and hope to make it available to the Mylor community when the fire danger season begins in November. As more people sign up for the app it is planned to be rolled out to neighbouring Adelaide Hills districts later in the summer with a possible state-wide launch in 2018.

The duo began working on the project as part of NASA’s Space Apps Challenge, which was held in Adelaide and 186 other locations across 69 countries in April.

TrentoScott and the four-member FloodLight team, which developed a tool to provide emergency workers with up-to-date flood-risk maps, were chosen as Global Nominees from the 10-team Adelaide competition.

Bowden said the web application would be available on all devices and aimed to give communities, families and individuals the ability to see and respond to hazards around them. He said Wildfire would also allow users to receive warnings and alerts during events such as bushfires or floods.

“Essentially it’s an interactive layer for a community to be able to respond and create a whole new level of awareness,” he said.

The app draws on freely available data from Sentinel satellites, which includes thermal signatures that reveal the locations and intensity of bushfires.

“People use technology every single day that has evolved from space technology,” Bowden said.

“We’re utilising space to create something really relevant for the community.

“As a two-person team we are getting through it quite fast and the next stage will be implementing it in a community scenario in the Adelaide Hills.”

This month Adelaide will host the 68th International Astronautical Congress – the biggest global meeting of the space industry and the largest conference ever staged in South Australia.

Belcher said the NASA challenge opened his eyes to the huge opportunities space technology presented across a range of industries.

He said hosting the congress this month was a great chance for more local companies to generate ideas for space-inspired innovations.

“The fact that NASA isn’t just concerned with space is something we learnt,” Belcher said.

“It’s something that we’re really excited about and Adelaide is poised to capitalise on it – if the right investment and the right people are put into it then it could be a big opportunity for South Australia.”

The South Australian Government will have an exhibition stand at the conference, where they will be joined by 11 local space start-ups, including Myriota, Fleet Space Technologies, Neumann Space and Inovor Technologies, hoping to increase their footprint in the multi-billion-dollar global space industry.

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