Wildfire Detection System, AI-based Flooding Monitor Win Israeli Environmental Prize

First report: Startups aimed at early detection of forest fires and dangerous flooding are set to take part in KKL-JNF pilot program within the coming year.

 Eversense's sensors are heat-activated and inexpensive, and can be installed on large numbers of trees. (photo credit: Courtesy of Eversense)
Eversense's sensors are heat-activated and inexpensive, and can be installed on large numbers of trees.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Eversense)

Two Israeli startups, one aimed at detecting wildfires and the other at monitoring floods, on Wednesday were awarded a new environmental prize by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).

For more stories from The Media Line go to themedialine.org

The startups – Eversense and SightBit – won the Extreme Weather Events Competition, which was held for the first time this year. Each received a cash reward of 75,000 shekels, or about $21,700, at a ceremony held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv and first reported by TML.

In addition, the startups will take part in a special pilot project within the coming year that will see their technological innovations put to the test.

The first of the two winners is Tel Aviv-based firm Eversense, which has developed a unique heat-activated sensor that detects wildfires in their earliest phase and can be deployed in large numbers across forests.

Doron Honigsberg, founder and CEO of Eversense (previously Knotifire), told The Media Line that the solution is effective in all weather conditions and requires no maintenance.

 From left: Doron Honisgsberg, founder and CEO of Eversense, KKL-JNF Chief Scientist Dr. Doron Markel, and Adam Bismut, CEO and founder at SightBit were awarded a new environmental prize by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund in Tel Aviv on September 21, 2022. (credit: Alex Brontfein) From left: Doron Honisgsberg, founder and CEO of Eversense, KKL-JNF Chief Scientist Dr. Doron Markel, and Adam Bismut, CEO and founder at SightBit were awarded a new environmental prize by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund in Tel Aviv on September 21, 2022. (credit: Alex Brontfein)

What's the difference between Eversense's system and others?

“Compared to other solutions, which require expensive infrastructure and Wi-Fi, these devices can each work independently, can be placed at the bottom of the tree and are very easy to install,” Honigsberg said.

“Compared to other solutions, which require expensive infrastructure and Wi-Fi, these devices can each work independently, can be placed at the bottom of the tree and are very easy to install.”

Doron Honigsberg

Most wildfire technological solutions, he noted, rely on satellite cameras or wireless sensor networks to function. Unlike other solutions available on the market, Eversense’s patented device is designed to produce its own electricity without the use of a battery, solar panel or external power source. It can also provide the exact location of a developing fire.

“I realized that there was a problem with connecting sensors to electricity outdoors,” Honigsberg said. “Solar panels are not such a good idea because there is a lot of theft and vandalism. Batteries also require maintenance so I had the idea that I could use the heat of the fire to power the sensors.”

Founded earlier this year, Eversense hopes that its sensors also will make an impact in other places suffering from seasonal wildfires, such as California.

The technology has been tested by the startup but the KKL-JNF pilot will be the first time it is used on a wide scale.

“Ninety percent of wildfires are caused by humans, and begin as small sparks that light up the vegetation on the ground,” Honigsberg explained, adding that fires move upward and eventually ignite tree branches, leading to their rapid spread.

SighBit's innovation

The second startup to come out on top in the KKL-JNF competition is SightBit, a startup founded in 2020 that is based near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Sightbit is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor water levels.

The startup uses standard cameras, such as those used for CCTV purposes, to detect any dangerous water situations in a given area and warn officials of potential flooding events.

“With rivers, we measure data with regard to capacity,” Adam Bismut, CEO and founder at SightBit, told The Media Line. “We can understand patterns and understand if it’s going to flood very soon in an area of interest.”

SightBit’s system is the only one that uses footage from cameras to detect water patterns in real-time and predict potential dangers, according to Bismut.

“Many other companies use sensors or extensive equipment to get the same results,” he said. “With SightBit you just need to use a camera to watch an area of interest – it can be a river, a lake or a beach – and then we give you all the information regarding the water.”

The AI monitor, which was originally used to alert lifeguards to swimmers in danger, will now be applied to monitoring flooding situations as part of the upcoming pilot.

What is the KKL-JNF Extreme Weather Events Competition?

According to KKL-JNF Chief Scientist Dr. Doron Markel, KKL-JNF launched the Extreme Weather Events Competition in a bid to combat the destructive effects of climate change, which has led to a greater frequency of wildfires and flooding not only in Israel but in many parts of the world.

“This year KKL-JNF made a strategic decision to enter the field of climate change, especially with regard to researching and developing new technologies,” Markel told The Media Line. “This prize is intended for startups that address and mitigate the effects of extreme climate events.”

“This year KKL-JNF made a strategic decision to enter the field of climate change, especially with regard to researching and developing new technologies,”

Dr. Doron Markel

As part of the pilot, Eversense’s sensors will be installed in select KKL-JNF forests and SightBit’s system will be deployed in areas in northern Israel that are prone to flooding during the rainy winter months.

“Because the [Eversense] sensors are very inexpensive we can spread thousands of them and cover significant areas that we will select together with experts,” Markel said. “We will also test the technology using a [controlled] fire to see if they truly function properly.”