Environment / Hardware / Internet / Startups

Ahead of its SXSW pitch, Rockville’s N5 Sensors just launched new wildfire detection tech

The Maryland company is dropping a new pilot program for its sensor-based wildfire tech, which CEO Abhishek Motayed will be presenting at the fest this weekend.

Members of the N5 team in Gilpin County, Colorado after a fire. (Courtesy photo)
This weekend, Rockville, Maryland’s N5 Sensors has some pretty noteworthy plans.

Earlier this week, the sensor-tech company dropped a brand-new pilot program for its wildfire-sensing technology. It’s going to be a huge talking point when founder and CEO Abhishek Motayed will be pitching at South by Southwest, happening now though March 20 in Austin.

N5, which launched out of the University of Maryland in 2012, started off as a sensor company. But over the past few years, it’s built out a full end-to-end system for wildfire detection based on Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The newly launched system an actually work anywhere in the world, even without a cell signal.

That ability, Motayed told, is crucial, because it helps with timeliness in addressing fires. If responders are sent when a fire is under an acre, they have a much better chance of keeping it under control versus waiting until someone notices smoke after it’s been burning for a few hours.

“Essentially at the end of the day, we’re trying to solve a big problem: How do we detect fires the moment they start, before they can grow and become devastating fires that are hard to manage?” Motayed said.

The N5SHIELD system is built with machine learning and cloud-based analytics, and operates essentially as a network of sensor nodes, Motayed said. In the same way that humans have multiple sensory systems, the N5 system has sensors for heat, smoke, chemicals and more to detect fire. The sensors also analyze the data they’re collecting, sending it back to the cloud and eventually creating a map that can show where a fire started and how it’s moving. It can also incorporate outside data such as wind speed.

“You see the pictures of the satellite images, planes, but these are already too late,” Motayed said. “Think about it: If a satellite can see a fire, that’s pretty big already. So that is the problem.”

N5, Motayed said, plans to deploy anywhere from 10 to 50 sensors in an area or community, while also sharing the data sets collected. The N5 system measures air quality, too. The hope is that communities can also use that info to apply for grants and in infrastructure proposals.

In the pilot program, N5 primarily plans to work with emergency responders like fire departments and community organizations, although they’ve also received inquiries from homeowners associations. The first interaction will include about 300 units, which will be distributed in partnerships with local governments in Colorado and California

It’s a plan he’ll be speaking about this weekend when the company presents as an alternate at the SXSW pitch competition in the smart cities, transportation and logistics category. Debra Deininger, the chief revenue officer at N5, said that she hopes this will kick off a breakout year for introducing the product to the public, which has been a decade in the making.

“By the end of the year, to have people actually protected by and N5 Sensor technology that Abhishek has been developing since 2012, it’s really exciting to see it come to fruition and be ready for prime time,” Deininger said.

Companies: SXSW

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