Wildfires and IIoT

At this very moment, wildfire season is currently underway in North America, and since the start of this year alone, more than 27,000 wildfires have consumed nearly two million acres according to the National Interagency Fire Center (www.nifc.gov). Though many people hear the word “wildfire” and immediately picture a forest in California, the reality is these natural disasters are prevalent across the country.

Wildfires are everywhere 

The Verge, a technology news website, announced recently that roughly 56% of homeowners in the United States face some sort of wildfire risk in the upcoming decades. Bottom line: wildfires are becoming more prevalent and costly every day, and these fires are affecting more than half the population and significantly changing our quality of life. Just a few decades ago, we didn’t have the technology to prevent or predict changes in the surrounding air quality, but now we do, and through it, we can create a better world. 

Today’s technological advancements allow us to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our overall health and safety. By leveraging sensor technology, we have a better chance of predicting and preventing significant changes in the environment, like a drastic shift in air quality before a wildfire begins. This insight allows us to make better decisions based on intentional insights, and our increased access to data provides us with the right information to better control our surrounding environments. Technology is powerful, and this power can and should be used to our advantage. 

One of my favorite ways to witness the power of technology transforming real-world issues is by exploring the ways sensor technology has a tremendous impact on air quality control monitoring. Today, internet of things (IoT) technology and satellite are the best tools for early detection and prevention of wildfires.   

Our approach to air quality control 

Believe it or not, air quality has as much impact on the world as the daily temperature. With climate change causing drastic shifts in the environment, it’s important that we pay close attention to the quality of the air we breathe, as it affects our overall quality of life. 

As you know, trees play a critical role in our ecosystem, so we must be very intentional and proactive about protecting the forests around us. This is where sensor technology makes a big difference. With a small machine, we can now track and predict changes in the environment and our surrounding air quality, which ultimately helps us control, prevent and predict conditions that lead to wildfires.  

At FreeWave, we provide autonomous sensors that are strategically placed in remote locations to track and record relevant data metrics such as temperature, humidity, wind, direction and particulate matter. These readings help industry experts know what’s in the air and how the air is changing. Once this data is collected and transmitted to the cloud, we are then able to analyze it and provide alert and proactive responses where needed. We have created a single pane of glass approach, where anyone with access can log into a portal and see in real-time what is happening in the areas surrounding their deployed sensors.  

The interesting thing about our sensors is that they are fully powered by solar energy, and satellite signals transmit the recorded data. We are basically offering a “buy, install and forget” resource that makes life significantly easier for industry and environmental experts. There is a ton of value here. Not only are we taking an in-depth look at what’s going on in the environment through air quality control monitoring, but we are also taking that information and transforming it into action. The real gold here lies in the return on investment. A little money spent on these sensors upfront can ultimately save millions of dollars, lives and entire forest regions in the long run. Today, IoT technology allows us to prevent and control wildfires before they occur, and early fire detection leads to safer environments for us all.

A unique human aid 

We are making life simpler and safer for all by using technology to do what humans can’t. Back in the day, people had to sit in an operation tower for hours, looking out to catch any major changes in the environment. Today, there is a major shortage of people willing to do this kind of work, and can you blame them? As humans, we can only be in one place at a time doing one thing at a time, but with technology, this is not the case. 

With simple sensors, we can now monitor and control a lot more environments at a much more affordable rate. All this to say, the goal here is not to replace humans with technology as some might think; what we are really doing is enhancing human ability through the power of technology. 

I’ve worked in technology for over 30 years, and every day I witness its evolution. I know it’s hard to imagine a world without cell phones, but I can still clearly recall the days when cell phones took up the entire trunk of a car, and now look at the world, most of us carry the same ubiquitous smartphone in our pockets. Technology is amazing, and we have the opportunity to use it to our advantage. 

At FreeWave, we are taking the capabilities of mobility – LTE, 4G, Satellite, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 900 MHz– and marrying them with sensors. The data we gain from these sensors is saving us time, money and resources. At the end of the day, we’re taking away the need to “overthink” industry issues, like how to better prevent forest fires, and instead are replacing our questions with data-informed predictions and timely proactive responses.  

Every day, we strive to provide industry leaders with the tools and technology needed to spearhead faster and safer environments for us all. This is certainly not a boring business, and I thoroughly enjoy working for a company that is using technology to have an impact on the things that matter most. 

Jeff Horton
Jeff Horton

Jeff Horton is the Chief Revenue Officer for FreeWave, provider of industrial wireless and IIoT solutions for people passionate about the beauty of a data-informed world.