Dubai Civil Defence embrace data analysis to prevent fires

Officials trawl through years of data to establish leading blaze hot spots in the emirate

Firefighters tackle a blaze at a recycling warehouse in Al Quoz in November. Photo: Dubai Civil Defence
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Dubai Civil Defence chiefs analysed the last five years' data relating to fire incidents to identify the emirate's fire-risk hot spots and to prevent major blazes.

The authority has launched a smart system to predict fire-prone areas and the probable time, allowing them to deliver targeted safety messages to help save lives.

Officials said alerts will be sent to residents who live in 'red zones' which have recorded the highest number of fires.

The Dubai Readiness programme was launched on Tuesday and is aimed at raising public awareness to reduce numbers of fires in the future.

“The system can identify the red zones in Dubai and know the reason behind the fires,” said DCD's Captain Essa Al Mutawa.

“A link with an awareness video will be sent through SMS to residents in red zone areas to avoid future fires.”

Targeting at-risk neighbourhoods

Capt Al Mutawa said fire risks spike during certain periods of the year such as Diwali when many families fill their homes with candles, set off fireworks and drape lights across their balconies.

“We identify which areas have frequent fires due to Diwali celebrations and send awareness messages to the population in that area on how to celebrate safely and what things they need to avoid,” Capt Al Mutawa said.

Leading causes of fires uncovered by the comprehensive data analysis include people smoking inside buildings or in balconies, poor storage of flammable items in industrial areas, gas leaks, electrical faults and using firewood or coal to heat rooms.

The senior official said fires are more prevalent in some areas during the cooler winter months.

“During winter, there are fires in desert camps and tents because of barbecues, so we will send messages about what they can do for prevention,” he said.

Capt Al Mutawa said he was inspired to delve into data analysis after studying Google's emotional intelligence system.

He was honoured for developing the fire prevention measure by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed, Chairman of Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, at the Intersec safety, security and fire protection trade fair.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed honoured Captain Essa Al Mutawa from Dubai Civil Defence for using data analysis to reduce fire risks. Lt Gen Rashid Al Matrooshi is pictured (left). Photo: Dubai Civil Defence.

DCD has turned to technology to create an avatar of a fire department official to speak about safety procedures in different languages.

Lt Gen Rashid Al Matrooshi, director general of DCD, believes the online initiative will ensure that fire safety message is spread far and wide.

“It’s a better way to reach people rather than awareness fliers or sending officers to speak to people about safety procedures. Using AI will cut time and effort,” Lt Gen Al Matrooshi said.

“The system will generate awareness messages in 20 languages and we aim to have 198 languages in the future.”

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Updated: January 19, 2023, 7:29 AM