Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched a new online portal on fire information and real time monitoring to help countries to control fire effectively and protect property and natural resources. The new Global Fire Information Management System (GFIMS) detects fire hotspots from satellites operated by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Developed in collaboration with the University of Maryland, GFIMS has an online mapping interface for displaying fire hotspots in “near real” time meaning that there is a lag of approximately 2.5 hours between satellite overpass and the data being available. The new system also allows users to receive email alerts on specific areas of interest, enabling subscribers to react quickly.
“The GFIMS has been launched at a time when the incidence of megafires tends to increase,” said Pieter van Lierop, FAO Forestry Officer, who is responsible for the agency’s activities in fire management.
GFIMS allows users to download fire information in minimal file sizes and in easy-to-use formats, including text files, ESRI shapefiles, Web Map Services, Google Earth/KML files, and a plug-in for NASA World Wind.
“GFIMS has also provoked strong research interest,” said John Latham, FAO Senior Environment Officer in the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department. “Linking the system to land cover shows us what is burning. GFIMS now provides analysis on trends of prevalence of fire by year and month, and will include information on the size of burnt area by land cover type in the future. It will result in improving analytical data and timely response.”
The system could be used by forest managers and fire fighters, as well as agencies involved in agricultural and natural resources monitoring. The subscription is free of charge. The system only requires a functioning email address. Initially GFIMS has been launched in three languages – English, French and Spanish. The monitoring system is hosted at the FAO’s Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.