By Mustafa Calkaya
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s high-tech drones are playing a key role in battling forest fires now raging in various parts of Turkey.
Turkey’s Forestry Directorate affiliated with the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry uses state-of-the-art technology to shorten the detection, response, and extinguishing time to fight forest fires, according to the information compiled by Anadolu Agency.
With the help of drones serving its firefighting fleet, Turkey monitors around 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles) of the area from the country’s largest city Istanbul to the southern border city of Hatay as well as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Through extensive surveillance by drones, the size of the fire can be assessed more quickly and a precision response can be made with the information they gather.
Especially at night, monitoring the general course of fires, the detection of heat points, and the clearer determination of intervention spots helps prevent the spread of flames to larger areas.
Images taken from the field by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which serve 24-7 during fire risk periods, are monitored instantly at Turkey's Fire Management Center.
At least eight people have lost their lives in wildfires in Turkey which started last week, fanned by strong winds.
- Artificial intelligence also used
Images taken by the drones are transferred to computers via the internet. Vehicles such as water trucks, construction equipment, first responders, airplanes, and helicopters are displayed on the computers, which are integrated into the Vehicle Tracking System in the administration inventory and include a map system with vector data such as forestry and water resources.
When image processing and artificial intelligence detects a possible fire in UAV images, an alarm is generated and an SMS sent.
By detecting thermal heat sources in the UAV image, the geographical coordinates of those regions and the distance between them are calculated.
These high-tech innovations have drastically shortened Turkey’s fire response time from 40 minutes in 2003 to just 12 minutes in 2019, and hopes run high for a quicker response still.
While four drones within Turkey’s Forestry Directorate are used to take constant images, UAV support is also provided by other institutions in extraordinary situations.