Mobile networks can be used to detect forest fires

Our country, like most countries in the world, has mobile coverage that is close to 100% of the population and that also covers a very large percentage of the territory. This allows us to talk or connect to the Internet from anywhere, in addition to favoring the arrival of connected devices that will explode when 5G is definitively implemented. However, just as they discovered that submarine Internet cables can be used to detect earthquakes, a new practical application for mobile networks has now been found .

Before going fully into the topic of mobile networks, we would like to recall the topic that we have discussed about submarine cables and earthquakes. In fact, it is a Red Eléctrica project that launched a pilot to use these fiber optic networks as sensors to detect vibrations. Under the name of DAS (Distributed Acousting Sensing) , this technology has been successfully tested by this company together with the University of Zaragoza and the Aragón Photonics company. With mobile networks you want to try something similar, but obviously adapted to the environment, electromagnetic waves.

Monash University Research

Researchers at Monash University in Australia have published a new study showing that the signal from mobile networks and the data that “passes” through them can be used as a tool to identify wildfires. It is an application that would be launched in the future, but the foundations have already been laid for that to be possible.

They have collaborated with various external organizations, even outside the country, to carry out the study. What they have done, broadly speaking, is to analyze how the signals of the mobile networks fluctuated throughout the terrible period between 2019 and 2020 with respect to the forest fires in Australia.

These measurements have shown that when there are large amounts of smoke, they act as “barriers” for mobile signals and the result is irregular transmission for radio links and other types of radars. With this, they have identified “unique signal patterns” that would be related to the existence of forest fires.

The study, in addition to demonstrating the usefulness of mobile networks to detect these problems, also explains that using mobile signals can be cheaper and more accurate than other technologies currently used to measure air quality. In addition, they confirm that mobile signals are already being used to measure rainfall and humidity .

The great downside of using mobile networks is found in the possible distortions that phenomena such as rain or fog can generate in the measurements . However, this will be a field of study for future research in this regard. In fact, the Australian government has already announced investments of several million dollars to more accurately measure forest fires, especially in summer.


by Abdullah Sam
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