Magazine / Emergency & Crisis Management May 22, 2023 9:15:00 AM

Thermal cameras: how to reduce fire risk with technology

Fire risk, especially at forest level, continues to plague our country. Especially in summer, due to the dry climate and high temperatures, the possibility of fires that are difficult to control increases.

In addition to the need for proper forest maintenance, there is, therefore, a clear need for monitoring of the areas most at risk.

And, today, the use of thermal camera is one of the most effective systems for preventing and reducing fire risk.

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What are the most effective solutions for monitoring fire outbreaks?

Technological solutions to help monitor fires have existed for several years, often at a prohibitive cost. Today, however, with the advent of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence paradigms, they are becoming increasingly accessible.

One such technology is thermal cameras that work with infrared rays. Initially used for military purposes to provide night vision, thermal cameras, by virtue of their ability to detect the outside temperature, have long been used mainly for fire detection, even over particularly large areas.

Another low-cost solution is to use traditional (optical) cameras combined with AI algorithms. In this case, an AI algorithm is instructed with a predefined set of fire and smoke images deemed relevant, and a set of images to handle fakes such as fog or haze.

Periodically, the images are detected and through a processing of them it is defined whether the scenario shown constitutes a potential fire.

However accessible these solutions are, it is evident that they carry a high risk of false positives or false negatives.

Fire risk: the advantages of integrating thermal cameras with Safety 1st

Thermal cameras remain, therefore, the most cost-effective solution for fire detection and prevention.

This technology can also be perfectly integrated with Safety 1st, the platform developed by Beta 80 Group to support Civil Protection Operations Rooms.

The operating scheme provides for the interconnection of the thermal cameras via connectors to the monitoring module. In the event of fire detection, the thermal camera sends an alarm signal to the Safety 1st platform when certain temperature thresholds are exceeded, using the native algorithms. The latter is intercepted by the “Decision Maker” module, which assesses whether the signal should trigger specific procedures.

The use of thermal cameras facilitates systematic monitoring of the area for fire risk prevention purposes. In addition, when combined with Safety 1st, remote control is enhanced, limiting intervention in the field. In fact, the system interprets the alarms received through the thermal cameras and correlates them with others from different sources. In this way, it is possible to discriminate whether the alarm is generated by a single thermal camera or whether there are other alarms from neighbouring thermal cameras or anomalies recorded by other sensors (e.g. temperature) in parallel.

In summary, the main advantages of integrating thermal imaging cameras with Safety 1st are:

  • Increased detection accuracy

  • Enhanced remote control

  • More accurate and automated alarm systems

City of Pescara and Beta 80 Group: implementing territorial monitoring with Safety 1st

Recently, the City of Pescara chose to implement the integration of Beta 80 Group's Safety 1st platform with a network of monitoring and safety sensors, including thermal and optical cameras, installed throughout the territory precisely to improve the response to natural disasters, fires and floods.

The system, currently in use, allows unified management of the network of sensors deployed across the territory, optimising the use of resources, and improving the organisation of the work of security professionals.

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From this experience, it was possible to draw an important lesson: the use of optical cameras, which alone would generate numerous false positives, can be useful as a tool for correlating the alarms generated by the thermal cameras installed in the territory.

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