SAN FRANCISCO (CBS13) — It could be the firefighting tool of the future and it’s the work of some Bay Area high school students.
Aditya and Sanjana Shah are both seniors at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. The pair shares a last name but is not related.
Both have watched with sadness how wildfires have been devastating California, so they put their skills and creativity to work on a new device that could help predict where the next wildfire will happen.
Drone footage from the Santa Cruz mountains shows the students testing their smart wildfire sensor which is strapped to a redwood tree.
The device uses weather data, cameras, and machine learning technology to help predict where a fire is most likely to occur.
“In the last decade, we have had a tremendous amount of technology at our fingertips. But we are not effectively using it in order to solve the problems that have been occurring for millions and millions of years,” Sanjana said.
The pair developed this device after brainstorming in their environmental science club at school.
“I want to help solve people’s issues by using a product and I really feel deeply touched by the wildfires. It hit so close to home,” Aditya said.
The sensor collects and transmits weather data including wind speed, temperature, and humidity. A built-in camera takes real-time images of forest fuel sources and analyzes them with machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop patterns that could spell danger.
There would be many sensors pre-installed throughout forestlands, sending data to the could where it can be downloaded by fire departments to get ahead of a disaster.
So far, the students say testing has proven the sensor to be “92% accurate.” More testing is needed, which will happen as soon as this year’s fire season is over.