In recent years, the frequency of large-scale forest fires has increased significantly owing to a number of factors including the effects of climate change, urbanisation, poor landscape management and malevolent acts. These so-called “Mega-fires” are particularly destructive and difficult to control with the technologies and systems currently available to fire fighters and emergency agencies. The EU AF3 project in which Skytek are consortium partners aims to provide an extraordinary improvement to the efficiency of current fire-fighting operations and to the protection of human lives, the environment and property by developing innovative technologies and means to ensure a high level of integration between existing and new systems.
To reach this objective, the AF3 project focused on a number of critical areas including :
- Innovative active countermeasure: implementation of the novel AAFF (Advanced Aerial Fire Fighting) system to accurately and safely disperse extinguishing materials from high altitude by aircrafts and helicopters in any condition: day and night, regardless of weather, smoke and configuration of terrain. It will enable a quick 24H response, minimizing fire duration and damages. The AAFF system can be adapted to a wide variety of aircrafts or helicopters.
- Innovative passive countermeasures: fast build-up of preventive defensive lines of capsules to prevent the spreading of fire from forest to populated areas.
- Early detection and monitoring: integration and deployment of diverse systems including satellites, aeroplanes, UAVs, and both mobile and stationary ground systems for the early detection of fire and for monitoring the propagation of smoke and toxic clouds.
- Integrated crisis management: the innovative AF3 Core Expert Engine will perform overall coordination of all fire fighting missions.
The results of AF3 have been validated by intermediate tests throughout the project, and by final demonstration with flight tests and drilling exercises carried out simultaneously in Spain, Italy, Greece and Israel.
The Israel round of trials were held from 25 to 27 of April 2017 in the Lachish region with the Command and Control centre setup in the conference centre of the Holiday Inn, Ashkelon. Thanks to Elbit Systems facilities in the area that supported aerial testing of Af3 technologies during the trial.
The trial testbed was the final opportunity within the AF3 project, following on from trials in Greece and Spain, to check the integration of different tools, including wearable tech for firefighting personnel, aerial technologies and strategies based on Af3 tools, water pellets to be dropped on wildfire for a more effective fire extinction and a broad risk analysis on fire spreading behaviour.
During the trial Skytek was able to integrate, test and validate a number of fire fighting technologies developed during the project. One of the major technology tests was the application of advanced web semantic techniques and tools for the interfaces, extraction, visualisation and reasoning over the sensor data captured from partners hardware devices during the trial. This technology provides a general means for describing sensor capabilities and perform analytics for alerting first responders based on geolocation on hazardous conditions.
More information on the trial can be found at the EU project site http://af3project.eu/af33-trials-running-israel/