Archaeological and cultural heritage areas are usually surrounded by old and valuable vegetation or situated close to forests, especially in the Mediterranean region. This location increases the risk of fire. Additionally, extreme weather conditions such as storms and floods pose great risks for these sites. In the field of cultural heritage conservation, apart from precautionary measures, early warning and immediate response to a fire breakout and extreme weather conditions are the only ways to avoid great losses and damages of irreplaceable environmental and cultural assets. Traditionally, early fire detection was based on human observation. A more advanced approach is automatic detection using either space-borne, airborne or terrestrial-based systems. No matter the approach, systems developed thus far fail to maximise the full potential of available technologies due to a lack of integration. The early warning system developed within the above-mentioned project focuses on swift detection to allow rapid response. It takes advantage of recent advances in multi-sensor surveillance by integrating terrestrial-based sensors and cameras into a fire detection system.
The project is funded by the Seventh Framework programme (FP7_ENV) and coordinated by the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Informatics and Telematics Institute (Greece). Final tests will be carried out in September and October 2012 and the developed system is expected to be ready by the end of 2012.
The platform is based on an integrated approach using innovative systems for early warning. Input data come from optical and infrared cameras, Wireless Sensor Network (WSN), official weather information services and local meteorological stations. A monitoring centre receives and processes the data using data-analysing techniques (intelligent computer vision, pattern recognition algorithms and data fusion techniques) to automatically generate warning signals for local authorities when : fire or extreme weather conditions arises. In case of fire detection, the fire propagation can be estimated from parameters like vegetation model, wind speed, slope, and aspect of the ground surface. An information and observation system powered by a Geographic Information System (GIS) visualizes the predicted fire propagation in 3D, providing services for decision and operational support in forest fire suppression.
Having passed final field-tests by the end of 2012, the system will be suitable for operation, although further development would also be possible to fine-tune the tool and diversify applications. Market uptake has not started yet, nor have the commercialization possibilities been explored. An exploitation plan is currently under preparation. Thus, the project reaches a level 7 on the TRL scale. The IPR belongs to partners according to their participation. The exploitation rights are still to be decided. The main application target is cultural heritage protection and preservation from the risk of fire and the weather. Environmental and cultural heritage authorities have already shown their interest and the Environmental Ministry of Turkey is already using the tool. Potential applications of the platform would include any kind of surveillance activity.