CGI (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A) was awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) a contract to develop a new wildfire mapping service that combines recent advances in Earth Observation (EO), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to help better map and monitor the impact of wildfires.
CGI and its project partner, the University of Leicester, is working with nationally mandated user organisations from Australia (Geoscience Australia) and France (ONF France) to implement and demonstrate EO services based on their requirements for improved wildfire risk management. The consortium will evaluate a variety of AI algorithms that could help meet these requirements. It is expected that combining the machine learning capabilities of these AI algorithms with the increased availability of frequent, high quality satellite observations will allow better burnt area mapping products to be generated where and when users want them.
The resulting AI-enabled wildfire mapping service will be made available to Geoscience Australia and ONF France, as well as the wider environmental community, through the EO4SD Lab portal. This online data portal, which has been developed by CGI for ESA, utilises cloud computing to provide free access to a range of EO data, tools and services to the sustainable development and wider environmental community.
The recent extensive fire disasters in the USA, Southern Europe and Australia have shown both the environmental and human cost of wildfires. Climate change is contributing to more frequent wildfires, with studies finding a 19% increase in global mean fire weather season length between 1979 to 2013. Better monitoring and analysing of burnt areas is important to improve land management and help mitigate the impact.
Tara McGeehan, President at CGI in UK & Australia said: "We are excited to be part of this cutting edge project that brings to bear the potential of AI to help the scientific and environmental community to better understand the extent and impact of damaging wildfires throughout the world. Our ongoing partnership with ESA for EO and Thematic Exploitation Platforms is enabling rapid progress in monitoring the Earth's environment to support scientific research and government policy."
Kevin Tansey, Professor of Remote Sensing and Principal Investigator at the University of Leicester said: "After 20 years of research into the use of satellite data to measure burned area and severity from local to global scales, the opportunity to work with CGI and agency partners to develop new wildfire services is very exciting. I am further delighted that this project will be one of the first to be delivered out of Space Park Leicester, our new state-of-the-art, high-tech facility for research, development and manufacturing.".
CGI has been delivering complex, mission-critical space software systems for clients across Europe, Australia, Asia and North America for over 40 years, supporting satellite navigation, communications and operations, to space enabled applications. CGI's partner, the University of Leicester, have a wealth of experience within EO domain and are one of the leading academic institutions with the UK. CGI is a partner in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Earth Observation Centre (METEOR) at Space Park Leicester.