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What is Sentinel Hotspots?

The Sentinel Bushfire Monitoring (aka Sentinel Hotspots) System is an internet-based mapping tool designed to provide timely spatial information to emergency service managers across Australia. The mapping system allows users to identify fire locations with a potential risk to communities and property. It can be accessed using a standard web browser.

The need

Following the severe bush fires that swept though New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in the summer of 2001-02, the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) identified a pressing need to implement a system to detect and monitor bush fires. The collaborative effort between DIGO, CSIRO Land and Water and Geoscience Australia resulted in a system that helps to protect Australian communities during bushfires.

How it works

Sentinel currently obtains data from the NASA Earth Observation Satellites Terra and Aqua. Plans are well advanced to include data from other satellites in the near future.

The satellites orbit the Earth collecting data in a path 2330 km wide. They pass over Australia at least once a day but sometimes the track alignment provides up to three passes. You can get details of where the satellites pass overhead each day from the Space Science and Engineering Centre for Terra – Australian tracking predictions website.

The raw image data is received by Geoscience Australia's Data Acquisition Facility at Alice Springs. The data is processed to create a surface temperature image known as the MOD14 product. Algorithms are used to produce the thermal image.

Locations of high temperature are identified and extracted from the image into a small text file and transmitted from Alice Springs to Canberra where they are fed into a spatial database. From there, the data can be queried and added to dynamically-created maps using a web-based mapping system.

Users can access the map website to query the database for fire locations, and select layers of contextual information to create maps showing the areas of interest.

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