Wildfires across the world have been increasing in frequency and severity over the last five years. A number of records were broken in 2020 thanks to Australia's bush fires as well as wildfires in Spain and the Western United States.
Due to the increase in devastation from fires, firefighters are also facing greater health risks after battling against blazes.
To help with this problem, the Linux Foundation has announced that it will host Pyrrha -- a solution created by AI-platform Prometeo that uses artificial intelligence and the internet of things to guard the safety of firefighters.
Prometeo won IBM's 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge after designing their platform, which monitors and acts on firefighter health and safety in real-time and over the long term.
Salome Valero, the co-founder of Prometeo, told ZDNet that the new tool helps integrate the platform with mobile phones and smartwatches to capture the averages of toxin exposure over time and provide two-way alerts. Based on open-source, it offers developers a chance to incorporate feedback from first responders directly.
In collaboration with IBM, Linux will help accelerate the development and deployment of firefighter safety technology worldwide. Since winning the IBM award in 2019, Prometeo has enhanced its hardware and software offerings with help from the IBM volunteer Service Corps and Samsung.
With the Pyrrha open source project, Prometeo, the Linux Foundation, and IBM said they aim to "accelerate innovation around firefighter health monitoring and safety" while also customizing and scaling the solution worldwide to save lives.
Mike Dolan, senior vice president and GM of projects at the Linux Foundation, added that Pyrrha is another example of the power of open source to accelerate technology innovation that can save lives.
Prometeo was initially created by a nurse, a firefighter, and developers. Over the past two years, the platform has improved its technology across offline usage through integration with mobile phones and watches to provide two-way alerts and capture the averages of toxin exposure over time.
The group conducted field tests in Spain throughout 2020 and 2021 while also incorporating firefighter feedback and anonymized technical data to improve the solution end-to-end.
Cal Fire said that in 2021 California is already seeing a 26% increase in wildfire activity and a 58% increase in acres burned compared to 2020. A number of reports have shown that 2021 is already outpacing 2020 in terms of wildfires.
Valero said the Prometeo team was thankful to the many organizations that helped improve the solution to help firefighters. The group set out to create technology that would equip firefighters with personalized monitoring of their exposure to toxic substances.
"Through the contributions of our partners and the open-source community, that dream is becoming a reality through the Pyrrha open source project. From anonymized data to improved sensors that allow firefighters access to monitor exposure in real-time, our team relies heavily on the feedback provided by firefighters during field tests and deployments to produce these enhancements," Valero said.
"We have implemented a number of enhancements, including a redesigned IoT device that can now measure nitrogen dioxide levels in addition to temperature, humidity, and carbon monoxide; a new case to better protect the sensors and an improved battery that was designed in partnership with IBM developer advocates; new vibrating smartwatch alerts in case of a red alert. Moving forward, the platform will continue to improve as developers contribute to the open-sourced Pyrrha."
Valero explained in an interview that the open-source project is now available to developers worldwide on GitHub, allowing it to be customized and scaled for firefighters everywhere.
According to Valero, the Prometeo team partnered with local authorities and fire departments to deploy the solutions on a regional basis in Spain and is eager to get the tool out to as many firefighters as possible.
Samsung was able to help the team get this technology directly to firefighters by providing hardware like smartphones and smartwatches for monitoring, Valero added.
KC Choi, executive vice president of Samsung B2B Mobile, said the company was excited to work with IBM to "advance tech for good and help combat the effects of climate change."
"As a huge proponent of open source technology, we see Call for Code as a unique opportunity to deploy real-world solutions based on open source technologies," Choi said.
"We're excited to be able to equip award-winning teams like Prometeo with resources to strengthen their solution as it is actively tested, deployed, and now made available in open source."
Right now, the tool is in use across Spain, including in fire stations in Catalonia, Navarra and Castilla La Mancha. The tool is being tested in both controlled and emergency settings, and its open-source nature allows first responders all over the world to access and adopt the tool.
Valero noted that in addition to the Linux Foundation, IBM and Samsung, Prometeo had gotten help from organizations like Arrow Electronics, GRAF/Bombers de la Generalitat de Catalunya, The Pau Costa Foundation, Peli and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.
The team is encouraging new users to contribute and deploy the software in new environments worldwide. They explained that their priority is to perform a number of updates in the short term, including adapting the hardware for usage in new locations, improving the analysis of toxin exposure over time, and further improving the mobile and smartphone capabilities.
"Together with IBM, The Linux Foundation, Samsung and other partner organizations, we hope to enable the mass adoption of Prometeo's technology," Valero said. "With the help of citizen developers, we have an opportunity to customize the technology based on region or need and continue to advance the capability of our monitoring platform."