Fire Sensors for Safer Urban Communities

The Red Cross collaborated with private sector and civil society partners in Kenya and South Africa to introduce simple, yet sophisticated sensors to provide early detection and warning of home fires across two informal settlements. In eight months, the coalition designed, manufactured, and installed 2,000 sensors at the household level across two settlements in Mukuru, Nairobi and Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Because technology rarely works in isolation, the Red Cross and its collaborators took care to incorporate several other improvements to more comprehensively address this complex issue. The communities were supported with:

  • Detailed GPS-identified maps that included local resources, locations of recent fires, major hazards and other relevant data
  • Fire safety education programs and drills
  • Research on fire causes and trends, as well as policy barriers and opportunities
  • Research on ways the sensor data could be leveraged to predict and address other challenges, such as urban heat waves
  • Start-up ideas, like fire-resistant paint and building materials, from local innovators to address the causes of fire and support quick recovery
  • Training, equipment and other support for community-led disaster response teams
  • Market research to understand spheres of influence and opportunities for change

Source: American Red Cross, 2016

Profile of project with short interviews with key partners involved — Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine

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