- Researchers of Monash University indulge in studies related to tackling bushfires
- Studies revealed that smoke levels and air quality could be detected by mobile signals and data
- Despite drawbacks to the research, lead researchers believes that it can be dealt by technological advances
The study eventuated in view of the bushfires in Melbourne in 2019-20
With rising pollution levels, climate change and global warming has become a global issue for the world. The air quality in some countries is gradually degrading and is giving rise to major respiratory issues. Major enterprises and companies are adapting sustainable approaches of business in order to tackle these problems on an industrial level. On the other hand, cell phone and networking companies are also heading towards sustainability through the introduction of applications and technology to tackle the problem.
The issue of summer bushfires
In the wake of the black summer bushfires, the federal government announced it would spend AU$37.1 million to improve the resiliency of the nation’s telco infrastructure.
In December, 2020, the company responsible for the roll out of the national broadband network unveiled its first disaster satellite service at Namadgi in the Australian Capital Territory, after the fires had impacted 1% of all NBN services.
Use of mobile data to detect bushfires
According to a latest study, it was revealed that mobile phone signals and mobile data can be used as a tool to identify bushfire smoke levels in the future.
According to researchers, the studies were conducted extensively to reach down to this conclusion. The study was led by the researcher Dr Adrien Guyot of the Department of Civil Engineering and School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment of Monash University, along with the researchers of the Bureau of Meteorology and The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University.
The study on mobile signals
During the study, these researchers analyzed the way mobile signals fluctuated during the horrific black summer bushfires within greater Melbourne in 2019-20. As a part of the study, the results showed that when large amounts of smoke formed, it behaved as a “lid” and resulted in “irregular broadcast conditions” for radio links and other weather radars.
The research stated that, “Unique signal patterns were identified and shown to be related to these specific atmospheric conditions and smoke concentrations by analyzing the received signal levels of these links.”
It also revealed that using mobile phone signals could be a more affordable and accurate alternative to currently available tools that are used to measure air quality. “Monitoring of air quality … is routinely conducted by governmental agencies using dedicated stations and instrumental setup … due to the prohibitive cost of maintaining air quality stations, local measurement… are scarce and often localized in densely populated urban areas.”
One major drawback of the method
While stating that mobile phone signals are already being used to accurately measure rainfall and humidity, it quoted there could be inaccuracies caused by weather events like rainfall or fog, labeling it as a drawback.
The study suggested, “Future research should be conducted on these potentially simultaneous physical impacts on signal levels.”
Despite the drawback, Guyot believes that such smoke prediction capabilities could be used together with other technologies such as satellite remote sensing, weather radar, and remote sensing to warn residents about potential fire dangers.
“I can see this data being ingested in predictive capabilities no earlier than a couple of years from now, only once the technology and the understanding of processes will have reached maturity. This essentially depends on if adequate human resources and financial support are allocated to its development,” he said.
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