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Entel AI and DataRobot use AI to fight forest fires

By Sara Barker
Wed 22 Apr 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It takes a huge collaborative effort to fight forest fires – and it’s something that is becoming a stark reality for countries like Australia, North America, and Chile.

Chile faced an incredibly tough wildfire season recently, after tens of thousands of hectares burned down. But through adversity comes opportunity, especially when it comes to preventing future tragedies from happening. 

“Chile is a country that loves its environment. Chilean people live among the trees. If those trees burn up, what’s going to happen?” asks Entel Ocean director Cristobal Urenda Moris.

Entel Ocean director Ilsen Olmos Ferrufino adds that the Earth is the greatest asset humanity will ever have.

"Now, more than ever, with climate change we are losing so many of our flora and fauna, it has been really hard.” 

The internet of things (IoT) is a powerful medium that can turn just about any object into a data-generating tool. When you attract an internet sensor to a tree, suddenly you have the ability to ‘sniff’ and detect air particles that could potentially help to predict the onset of a forest fire.

That’s exactly what EntelOcean did, with the help of DataRobot’s Enterprise AI platform.

"We are proud to be working with Entel Ocean to help reduce the impact of fires in Chile. By using DataRobot’s enterprise AI platform, Entel Ocean can now more quickly predict when a fire may start, allowing them to alert authorities and action a response. In these extraordinary times, this is a great example of the power of AI and how it can be used to change lives and reduce the impact of natural disasters," says DataRobot APAC general manager Tim Young.

“We created an ecosystem of big ideas. We have a nose that can sniff particles. Once you have the particles, you really have to understand what type of particles they are - it could be rain, a barbecue, many things that are actually not a forest fire," adds Cristobal Urenda Moris.

“We really needed to know when the forest fire was real - that’s when DataRobot came in.”

EntelOcean used 'sniffing’ IoT sensors to crunch the data and create an accurate system that could prevent forest files. To do that it had to overcome some major hurdles like eliminating false positives (even something as menial as a raindrop could cause a false positive).

"The noses collect a range of data on their surroundings, including humidity levels, temperature and the concentration of certain materials, and then relay that information back to an IoT platform in Entel Ocean's offices. Using DataRobot’s predictive analytics and machine learning, the company uses the data collected by the “noses” to identify how possible forest fires are likely, as well as identify if a forest fire is active," says Young.

Another hurdle involved continuously improving the analytics to create more accurate prediction.

And it worked – according to DataRobot, Entel Ocean is now able to predict forest fires 12 minutes quicker than its previous methods.

“Data is huge and it all depends on how you manage every part of it to make it more predictable— seeing things that human beings are not capable of. DataRobot has been a powerful tool to do that," says Ilsun Olmos Ferrufino.

“It was a great moment - we had something here that we could actually use to fight wildfires," adds Cristobal Urenda Moris.

Twelve minutes saved is a big deal, considering fire can spread in a matter of seconds. Every minute helps.

“We are focused on using data and AI to get better solutions," says Entel Ocean enterprise digital solutions spokesperson, Lenor Ferrebuz Bastidas.
“We have been detecting a forest fire 12 minutes before traditional methods - this is a big deal when it comes to preventing fires.” 

Young adds, "AI has the power to make real change to business and to people’s lives. Entel Ocean shows the positive effect of AI on the environment, by predicting when fires may begin, firefighters have a head start in the race to contain and stop the forest fires."

"Businesses all around the world are using AI to harness their data and make smarter business decisions."

It’s no ordinary way  – it’s a cause that helps the entire world.

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