Valley teen’s AI-driven wildfire prevention system turning heads

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CHANDLER, AZ — Sometimes, innovative solutions to problems plaguing our world come from unexpected places.

“In 2020 alone, there were around 58,250 wildfires and more than 10.3 million acres burned in the U.S.,” said Hamilton High Freshman Prisha Shroff.

Fourteen-year-old Prisha has set her sights on preventing the devastating and many times heartbreaking impacts of wildfires. She is tackling this big problem using a rather sophisticated plan of attack.

“Basically, what the system does is it detects hot spots which are areas where wildfires can start,” said Prisha.

The system she designed uses real-time NASA and NOAA Meteorological data and predicts if an area’s conditions are ripe for disaster. She combines artificial intelligence to analyze temperatures in the area, soil moisture, vegetation health, wind and precipitation.

“Using previous year’s data I tested it to see can it predict where the wildfires occurred and did they actually happen there, so I got a 98.6% accuracy,” said Prisha.

Once a location is identified, the system alerts fire agencies and can even launch a fixed-wing drone to dump flame retardant. The impressive results are not only getting her recognition from Chandler Fire interested in implementing her system, but earning her way into the Broadcom MASTERS National Science competition top 30.

“I’m looking into getting a patent for the idea and I’m also looking into working with the ASU lab to create the drone deployment system,” said Prisha.

“She’s always been this motivated kid, who wants to go change the world,” said her mom Prital.

Her brother says it’s been an inspiration to watch her mind work.

“I have like no idea how she even got to where she did with the coding part of her project,” said Iraj.

It hasn’t come without its doubters, but Prisha got a surprising response when seeking advice from teachers prior to starting the project.

“Some of them said it’s too hard, you can’t do it, and she came back home and said mom they said this but I’m going to still work on it,” said Prital.

And maybe because they told her she couldn’t, she did. Now in the running for a $25,000 first-place prize.

Author Simon Sinek may have put it best. “What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Fail. Try again. Change the world.”

To view Prisha’s presentation on her system, click here.

To see her self-cleaning solar panel invention, click here.

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