Optimisation of tower site locations for camera-based wildfire detection systems

Andries Heyns*, Warren du Plessis, Michael Kosch, Gavin Hough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Early forest fire detection can effectively be achieved by systems of specialised tower-mounted cameras. With the aim of maximising system visibility of smoke above a prescribed region, the process of selecting multiple tower sites from a large number of potential site locations is a complex combinatorial optimisation problem. Historically, these systems have been planned by foresters and locals with intimate knowledge of the terrain rather than by computational optimisation tools. When entering vast new territories, however, such knowledge and expertise may not be available to system planners. A tower site-selection optimisation framework that may be used in such circumstances is described in this paper. Metaheuristics are used to determine candidate site layouts for an area in the Nelspruit region in South Africa currently monitored by the ForestWatch detection system. Visibility cover superior to that of the existing system in the region is achieved and obtained in several days, whereas traditional approaches normally require months of speculation and planning. Following the results presented here, the optimisation framework is earmarked for use in future ForestWatch system planning.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)651-665
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 411,2 Forestry
  • facility location
  • maximal cover

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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