Networked Early Fire Detection for Informal Settlements

In areas where open flames are used for cooking and lighting, smoke alarms are impractical as they will often cause false alarms. Lumkani’s fire alarm uses change in temperature as opposed to smoke to detect fires. The in-house heat detector warns those inside the home to the danger of fire – enabling them to respond before it becomes unmanageable. If an in-house detector is not silenced within 20 seconds, it sends an alert to all similar devices within a 60 meter radius through radio signals and sends SMS messages directly to the phones of neighbors. This enables a community-wide call to action to address the danger effectively. The device, which costs around $7.50, has been deployed in 7,000 homes across South Africa. Future devices will automatically send fire location details to municipal disaster management officials.

Why you should care

Shack fires are one of the great challenges in South African townships and across the globe, as open fires used for cooking and lighting can easily turn into disasters. In South Africa alone, more than 250,000 people lost their homes and possessions due to shack fires between 2000 and 2010, according to the company. With the connected fire alarms, Lumkani enables underserved areas to respond to fires quicker in order to minimise economic, environmental and social losses.

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