Where there’s smoke

New hinterland satellite system to detect fires in just minutes

THE hinterland faces one of its most threatening fire seasons ahead but now has a world-leading tool to help safeguard people, properties, and natural assets.

Developed by local company exci (formerly Fireball International), this AI-assisted program analyses satellite images and on-ground cameras to swiftly spot heat and smoke. The equipment will be fitted across the Sunshine Coast including Maleny and Mount Coolum.

 Once a fire is detected, emergency services and Council will receive immediate reports and can consider an appropriate response in consultation with partner agencies.

‘Exci’, which means alarm in Latin, already has been used to great effect in wildfire-ravaged California.

 Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) Chair and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson welcomed the announcement for this life-saving technology that will benefit and help protect our region.

Mr Jamieson made the announcement as he helped launch Get Ready Queensland Week which runs from October 9 to 16.

This encourages residents to know their risk, prepare emergency plans and pack an emergency kit. While previous seasons have focussed on storms and flood risks, the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting this one to bring heatwaves and threat of severe bushfires due to the El Niño weather pattern.

Mr Jamieson said the roll-out of the bushfire detection system was part of a collaboration between QFES, HQ Plantations, Powerlink as well as Sunshine Coast based businesses exci and Landwatch Australia.

“The swift arrival of our firefighters can be the difference between an easily contained minor incident, and a major bushfire that can lead to extensive destruction,” he said.

Exci managing director, Christopher Tylor, said he was extremely pleased to deliver an Australian made and owned fire detection system for the Sunshine Coast.

“The exci system can automatically detect bushfires within minutes, using satellite and ground-based sensor data analysed by powerful, machine-learning algorithms.”

 Mr Tylor said exci would collaborate with Landwatch Australia, a family-owned business located in Palmwoods, known for delivering remote, camera surveillance solutions to Australian farmers and rural communities.