Providing Satellite-Based Early Warnings of Fires to Reduce Fire Flashovers on South Africa’s Transmission Lines

Report Date: June 2006

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest frequency of wildfires in the world, and the consequences are often disastrous to lives, property, and the environment. The Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) is a satellite-based fire information tool that provides near real-time fire information to users across the globe. Created by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, it provides a unique tool to better manage the risk of wildfires. AFIS relies on a combination of the high fire detection resolution but low update frequency polar orbiting satellites with coarser resolution but high frequency geostationary weather satellites. Any detected fire hotspots are published immediately on a website and through text messages. A majority of the funding for this project came from Eskom, South Africa’s largest power company, and is being used to mitigate disruptions to power service caused by fires. The mobile AFIS app is available here.


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  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

    The CSIR is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organizations in Africa. Constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1945 as a science council, the CSIR undertakes directed and multidisciplinary research, technological innovation as well as industrial and scientific development to improve the quality of life of the country’s people.

    The CSIR is committed to supporting innovation in South Africa to improve national competitiveness in the global economy. Science and technology services and solutions are provided in support of various stakeholders, and opportunities are identified where new technologies can be further developed and exploited in the private and public sectors for commercial and social benefit.

    The CSIR’s shareholder is the South African Parliament, held in proxy by the Minister of Science and Technology.

Frost, P. and H. Vosloo. Providing Satellite-Based Early Warnings of Fires to Reduce Fire Flashovers on South Africa’s Transmission Lines. Pretoria, South Africa: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 2006. On-line,

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