2020 is hit by a COVID-19 global pandemic. In Indonesia, the government implements several strategies to fight the coronavirus, such as declaring public health emergency, large-scale social gathering restrictions and regional quarantine. As of May, several provinces such as Jakarta, the number of newly infected patients seems on a downhill path. It is predicted that the COVID-19 will be under control by the end of 2020.
On top of the new COVID-19, Indonesia is preparing to fight another public threat, the forest fire occurs every summer. The forest fire smoke from burning peatland adversely affected Indonesia and the nearby countries in the last few years. If forest fires and COVID-19 happen simultaneously, many experts worry that the combination will increase the mortality rate. Dr. Don Sin, head of respiratory medicine at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, said that the presence of wildfire smoke would likely increase the death rate from the virus1. Dr. Sin added that while COVID-19 disproportionately affects older people, the combination of the virus with wildfire smoke would have an impact on everyone regardless of age.
To mitigate the forest fire risk, Director of Forest and Land Fire Control from The Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) – Basar Manullang revealed that forest and land fire control strategies were changed by prioritizing efforts to prevent and extinguish early. According to his written statement on 2nd Apri 2020, MoEF implemented the Integrated Forestry Prevention Patrol program in many locations across the country2. Under the program, early land and forest detection thermal camera systems (InsightFD) were installed in 15 locations within the provinces of Sumatra, Kalimantan and East Java. Additional operators were added to use the detection systems to improve early land and forest wildfire detection. Training, covering wildfire preparation and the new InsightFD system, is scheduled for both existing and new MoEF operators. However, standard classroom-based training was not possible because of the new social distancing requirement. As fire season was approaching, MoEF wanted to conduct the training as scheduled to better equip the team to combat forest fires. MoEF, PT Has Environment and Robotics Cats decided to use online collaborations to provide training to MoEF operators spread across the country.
The online training was being held in 2 days (15-16 April 2020) and more than fifty people from the regional manggala agni office attended the training. Many of them were working from home (WFH). On the first day, Robotics Cats engineers introduced to the training participants the system design and functional features of InsightFD, the infrared and visual signal detection mechanisms, and also how to optimize the detection automation. On the second day, we demonstrated SmokeUI, our smoke detection software, step by step to the participants using online meeting desktop sharing feature. We also use the online meeting remote desktop control feature to provide MoEF operators hands-on troubleshooting exercises. The training was conducted very well and interactively. Trainers and trainees could communicate with each other effectively via video conferencing.
It was our first large-scale online training to MoEF and the result was great. Many positive feedbacks from the operators as they had more confidence and understanding to use InsightFD to detect and locate fires, and to alert field crews timely to suppress fires as early as possible. An appreciation also being addressed by Mrs. Mujiastuti, head of the sub-directorate of personnel and infrastructure, for the online operator training being completed successfully under all the new restriction caused by COVID-19.
We are pleased that online training was very successful! The teams worked together, amid the social distancing challenge imposed, to get well prepared for the coming forest fire season!
Diwantara Sebastian, Sales Manager Indonesia, Insight Robotics Limited
- B.C. doctor warns of deadly ‘double whammy’ if coronavirus persists into wildfire season, https://globalnews.ca/news/6751699/bc-coronavirus-wildfire-smoke/
- KLHK starts integrated patrol of forest and land fire prevention, https://nasional.kontan.co.id/news/klhk-mulai-patroli-terpadu-pencegahan-karhutla