M&C Saatchi and NRMA create detection technology to avoid bushfires

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 5 December 2016
NRMA Fireblanket

NRMA Insurance and M&C Saatchi have created a prototype for a bushfire detection service that senses and tracks bushfire smoke, providing an early warning signal to at-risk communities and authorities.

The partnership with CSIRO Data61 follows almost two years of research and development with innovation partner Tricky Jigsaw, part of the M&C Saatchi Group.

Described as a "virtual safety blanket", NRMA FireBlanket is a bushfire detection and monitoring network of sensor nodes that “sniff” the air for bushfire smoke. If smoke is detected the nodes can communicate with each other via a wireless sensor network to help locate the source.

The partnership with CSIRO Data61 will test the NRMA FireBlanket prototype alongside other bushfire prevention technologies to see if it can complement existing initiatives.

NRMA Insurance GM of marketing and CX Jane Merrick says: “NRMA Insurance has a long history of being there for customers before, during and after a disaster. With one in 10 Australians being impacted by bushfire at some point in their lives, we have developed the NRMA FireBlanket project to explore the role technology can play in helping us to detect and prevent bushfires.

Tricky Jigsaw is M&C Saatchi's innovation hub, responsible for the award-winning Clever Buoy and Lexus heartbeat.

Founder of the agency Ben Cooper says: “This project has allowed us to collaborate on a prototype that has the potential to create on the ground 'bush intelligence' that gives always-on insight into bushfire conditions and threat. R&D continues with CSIRO’s Data 61 to move it closer to reality.”

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