The winning idea from our #IoTMaker Challenge: 3G Bushfire Alert System

Last updated: 09 March 2015

Our panel of expert judges has come to a decision; we’re pleased to announce that the winner of our IoTMaker Challenge is a 3G Bushfire Alert System, submitted by Jason Mitcheson, a Java developer from Australia. Jason works for Observant, which provides technology solutions to the farming industry.

It’s been a great competition to be a part of, with some excellent entries from all over the world – entries ranging from the US, to Australia, to Tunisia and from all over Europe have kept our IoT-focussed brains hard at work deciding on a winner. There have certainly been some eye-opening submissions, which we’ve highlighted before on the blog, such as an IoT-connected swear jar that invoices you, smart motorcycle helmets, a smart gardening solution that does all the plant tending work for you and even a connected fire extinguisher that can call for backup automatically. They’ve all been impressive, but no idea has fit our judging criteria more so than Jason Mitcheson’s 3G Bushfire Alert System.

In short, the idea is an alert system that’d use one of our Cinterion Concept Boards, combined with a battery, a small solar panel, and a digital temperature/humidity sensor (probably an Arduino sensor, similar to those used with our smart office plant, named Horst) to provide help to fire authorities needing early detection of bushfires.

Bushfires are a growing, expensive and dangerous problem in Australia. Just within the last week, we’ve already seen one bushfire declared a natural disaster; and with a heatwave on the way, civilian fires have been banned in 11 districts. When proposing the idea, Jason explained that the current detection system is in dire need of IoT help. Currently, the CFA (Country Fire Authority) employs watch towers with imaging equipment and specialist observers, who work in coordination with satellite observation systems. The downside in both cases here is the expense, and poor performance at night time. A 3G alert system could be a far more efficient, cost effective solution to this problem, that wouldn’t be affected by the time of day. The lower cost and customizable features of the Gemalto EHS6 module for example could enable authorities to deploy a large number of 24/7 remote heat-sensitive bushfire monitors on Telstra’s 3G network, which has good rural coverage, across all the most vulnerable districts.

Looking at the judging criteria, it becomes clear why this idea is a winner.

  • Viability – is this buildable? This was an important criterion for us, as we’ll be developing a demo to show off at MWC 2015. – It certainly is; our team is already beginning work on creating the prototype alert system.
  • Creativity – is it a clever way of solving the problem? Is it what mathematicians and physicists might call an ‘elegant solution’? – Yes, it is. Apparently, James came up with the idea whilst on holiday in the country, which just goes to show how creative thinking can pop up wherever you are.
  • Real-world value – is it a problem that needs to be solved? Absolutely. As we’ve explained, bushfires are a big problem that can be deadly, in addition to being very expensive.
  • Originality – is it too similar to something that’s already out there? From what we can see, there’s nothing else out there that’s exactly like this. However, it can’t be considered a world first, as Firebreak USA Corp has been using a wireless gateway system for early fire detection over the past few years. Nevertheless, this solution has some key differences, which we’ll reveal during the production process. Plus, it should also be noted that Jason was unaware of this previous solution when he came up with his. And on this occasion, there’s lots of space to innovate with this idea – we can always find room for improvement!

So, stay tuned as we build this alert system ahead of MWC15 – we’ll be publishing an IoTMaker diary as we make this idea into a reality. And please wish us luck! MWC isn’t far away now, so we’ll have to work quickly!

Finally, we must also pay tribute to the other brilliant ideas submitted over the course of this challenge. Our runner up, who, like our winner, will be receiving an iPhone 6 and a Cinterion Concept Board as a reward was Guillaume Chabas with his Connected Fire Extinguisher idea. Third place, who’ll also be receiving a Concept Board, was Inácio Francisco Acker who proposed an intelligent wheelchair. Fourth and fifth places, also in line for Concept Boards, have gone to Alejandra Gomez and his iPhone Radar for blind people and to Sadek Alaoui for his SmartDoor idea. More details on these ideas can be seen on the shortlist.

Thank you all for entering! And let us know your thoughts by tweeting to us @Gemalto or by leaving a comment in the section below. And don’t forget to check in soon to see the 3G bushfire alert system in action!