This is a long weekend in Hong Kong. I have some time to write something. Thanks.
It was my pleasure to present in the UNEP Modern Technologies for Disaster Management webinar last Tuesday (28-Sep-2021). This webinar focused on opportunities and challenges associated with Artificial Intelligence and its use in disaster management. It was the second webinar of the four-part series. The first one (14-Sep) was about Robotics, the third (12-Oct) and fourth (26-Oct) webinars will talk about Drones and the Internet of Things. Please register at: bit.ly/ModernTech4DisasterMgmt
It is a new exposure for me to speak in a UNEP event There are some things very interesting and I would like to share with you.
There were five speakers and six members in the UNEP organizing team (Resilience to Disasters and Conflicts Global Support Branch). These 11 people are based in 11 different countries: Germany, Qatar, China, France, United States, Switzerland, Netherlands, Botswana, United Kingdom, Nepal, and Mexico. I found the teamwork was very good and professional. Kudos to the organizing team!
The webinar attendees asked very good questions! Domain-specific and relevant. Very impressive.
The speakers were AI experts! I learned a lot from this event! It was a very informative webinar. In case you missed the webinar, I highly recommend you watch the video recording. I think you can find it on YouTube.
If you want a quick summary of the presentations, below are my picks.
Opening remarks, by Monique Kuglitsch:
“High-quality data are the foundation of AI-based algorithms.”
It is so true and fundamental!
Dear customer, please clean your camera lens and provide us clear images. Thanks.
Extracting information from social media for crisis response and management, by Dr. Muhammad Imran:
“Deep learning models need, first of all, huge amounts of data. Second, they need to have diversity. So having the footprint of one incident in different cases would greatly help deep learning models to make more robust inferences.”
AI-powered wildfire detection system, by me:
“We need different tools for different stakeholders to stop the threat from spreading. Masks for COVID-19. Early detections for wildfire.”
Monitoring and forecasting floods with artificial intelligence, by William Castaings:
“Velocity and discharge remain quantities of interest which are very often challenging or impossible to measure during extreme events.”
Integrating AI with hazard science to improve disaster resilience, by Craig Fugate:
“This is really about how do you price risk in a way that induces both governments, but more importantly private sector, to change behaviors both in reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, but also actions they need to take now to mitigate against the impacts.”
“By working together with the right tools, we can bring positive impacts on a global scale today.”
This UNEP webinar series is one the right tools. We need more. I am looking forward to the coming Drones and IoTs webinars! Please join us and register at: bit.ly/ModernTech4DisasterMgmt
It is an exciting journey.
What is AcceliCITY?
AcceliCITY is one of the largest Smart and Resilient City startup accelerators in the world. It focuses on startups that utilize smart city solutions to address risk, equity and sustainability in our urban environments.
Who is the program organizer?
Leading Cities, an international non-profit organization, connects smart cities across the globe with innovations and insight to drive resiliency, equity, and sustainability. It is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
What is the accelerator program content?
The 5-month accelerator program is designed to help startups navigate the challenges of working with governments (YEAH!), convey venture value, and network within an expansive Smart and Resilient City ecosystem.
Because of COVID-19, the 2021 program will mainly consist of webinars and online workshops. Usually, the program will start at 10 am Eastern Time (10 pm Hong Kong Time).
What are the monetary benefits to the accelerator cohorts?
A US$150,000 pilot project!
The program culminates with a final pitch event where up to $150,000 in city pilot opportunities are awarded.
AcceliCITY’s direction is to help startups to do business with cities (governments) and AccelCITY will accelerate the selling cycle by funding a pilot program. For companies targeting government customers, the first pilot deployment is very critical! We know that! And that’s why we’re keen to participate in the program!
“At Leading Cities, we recognize that startup growth and impact require capital from both investors and clients. The AcceliCITY program connects winners with funding, a pilot project, and a pipeline of clients from cities worldwide.”
Who are the 2021 AcceliCITY Semi-finalists?
There are 500+ applicants from 44 countries. The 50 semi-finalists are from 23 countries:
20.South Korea: 1
The 2021 AcceliCITY accelerator program has just started. Many new and interesting things. I gave my first Clubhouse speech yesterday! Cool!
It is our honor to join the other 49 startups in this exciting journey!
“Big Tree Animal Sanctuary and Adoption Center (hereafter Big Tree) is a charity organization in Hong Kong. The center is located in a remote rural area surrounded by hills and trees. It is facing high wildfire risks, especially in April and October. Big Tree uses 5G and RoboticsCats AI-Cloud SaaS to early detect wildfire and mitigates wildfire risks to the center and the animals living in it.”
Figure 1: a camera installed at Big Tree Animal Center. The center is located at the foothill.
Above is an extract from the company blog post with the title “Big Tree protects Cats and Dogs by 5G & AI” that I wrote three months ago. It was a good article. That said, with the new experience and lesson learned since then, I should rewrite the title, right the wrong.
Big Tree protects Cats and Dogs with Love.
Big Tree is the first animal center in the world to use AI to detect wildfire. It is an innovative application. Many media  are interested to report how Big Tree uses technologies to mitigate wildfire risks. I joined some of the media interviews. The reporters asked very detailed questions. The media crews worked long hours with smiles. Their narratives and videos are both informative and beautiful.
Figure 2: three different media interviewed Big Tree on the same day!
It is joy. It is love.
All the cats and dogs living at Big Tree were abandoned in the past because of their physical sicknesses, disabilities, or aging. The abandonments created more mental damages and broken hearts which are far more challenging to recover than physical wounds. The animals felt remorse, sadness, distress and loss.
Big Tree protects the cats and dogs with love.
Figure 3: Reporter and photographer were busy working on the interview.
In one of the interviews, a reporter asked Big Tree volunteers to share their experience with the new technology. “The new tool helps us to early detect nearby wildfire, and we can evacuate the animals timely if needed and save their lives, it probably can save the animal center structure too. Even better is, we believe the early detection will save the lives and properties of our neighbours further away from the foothill.” Big Tree volunteers replied.
A surprising and inspiring answer.
Figure 4: Neighbours of Big Tree: farms and residential properties
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 ESV
Figure 5: Neighbours of Big Tree from a different perspective
 Below are the recent media reports and case studies about the Big Tree project, in reverse chronological order:
Netgear SMB, 26-May-2021
A&S Magazines, 17-May-2021
HK Cable TV, 15-May-2021
Axis Communications, 15-May-2021
IT Pro Magazine, 13-May-2021
Armada International, 6-May-2021
Apple Daily, 18-Apr-2021
StartUpBeat, Hong Kong Economic Journal, 22-Mar-2021
I tested Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router last weekend.
1.Why are we interested in 5G?
With the rollout of 5G, cellular data communication services have become more accessible and affordable. We are exploring cellular services (5G, LTE-A, LTE) to connect our wildfire detection hardware.
Most of our deployments are using fixed microwave wireless networks to connect our robots in forests. To move to public 5G/4G cellular services will lower the network management cost and improve cash flow.
An important challenge is cellular signal strength in remote/rural locations where most of our robots/cameras are installed.
We also need a good router that can provide reliable cellular uplink, and wired Ethernet ports to connect to our robots/cameras. We want small physical sizes and power consumption.
2.Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router
There are only a few 5G routers in the Hong Kong market. Netgear M5 is one of them. The one we are testing is an unlocked version of Netgear MR5100. It is effectively an MR5200.
Netgear M5 supports device connections via WiFi, USB-C tethering (for both Windows PC and Mac), wired Gigabit Ethernet (requires Data Offloading turn-off). It can be powered directly via USB Type-C with the internal battery removed. It is designed as a mobile router, hence it is small (105 mm x 105 mm x 21.5 mm)and light (240g).
I tested its uplink performance in the rural area. We will use Speedtest app and iPhone 11 Pro which connects to M5 via WiFi. The testing location was Cape Collinson Battery. It is located in eastern Hong Kong Island. 3.5km walking distance from the Chai Wan MTR station. I tested three times, fastest download and upload speeds at 83.8Mbps and 23.2M respectively! Very good!
3.More about Cape Collinson Battery
Two batteries are built at Cape Collinson in 1938. We can see only one of them now. It becomes a popular eco-travel spot because of its unique history and beautiful landscape. To test the Netgear M5 at Cape Collinson Battery makes the whole journey more interesting!
“I’m going to live every minute of it.” Joe Gardner
20201010 is a beautiful day.
It is a day for celebration. We made a few great things yesterday.
1.ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign is successfully finished
Our 30-day crowdfunding project ended yesterday morning. Thank all 105 backers from 14 countries! We met our funding goal of US$20000!
We initially were not sure we could meet the goal. App is not a popular Kickstarter category. Anyway, we decided to fund the development of the Free app ourselves. Any third party financial support is a bonus for us! Nothing to lose!
The campaign helped us to promote the app and reach more potential users! B2B and B2C marketing are very different. This is a very valuable lesson learned for us!
2.ReportFires is approved by App Store
On the same morning, Apple approved our submission to App Store! The whole approval process was than 48-hour! Pretty good.
Apple asked a few questions about the use of the ReportFires app and the target uses. The requested a video to show how our AI image detection of wildfire smoke works.
We replied promptly. Apple responded quickly too. It made us thought that Apple found the app useful and wanted to make it available on the App Store ASAP!
Here is the ReportFires App Store link:
3.Unwire.Pro interview is published
Unwire.Pro, a popular tech news website, interviewed RoboticsCats.com a few days ago. They found our app was very unique and they were interested in the golden circle, the why-how-what of ReportFires.
The Unwire.Pro crew was very professional and they asked many good questions. We provided them great answers too!
They published the article yesterday at noon! What a coincidence! It helped us to promote the ReportFires app too.
We believe the ReportFires app is a useful tool. It is useful when people are using it.
Here is the online article:
4.Successful fire test in Europe
In yesterday afternoon Hong Kong Time, which was morning Eastern Europe Time (EET), our partner was doing a fire test to demonstrate InsightFD features to the forest firefighter department. The weather was windy and very challenging for wildfire detection! We’re glad that the InsightFD system successfully detected wildfire in the fire test! Cool!
It was a great result. The partner and we spend huge effort to optimize InsightFD for the Eastern European forest environment! And our effort pays off!
It is a beautiful Saturday!
Time flies! The 30-day Kickstarter campaign of our ReportFires app will end this week! As of 04-Oct-2020 noon, there are 99 backers and the project is 90% funded! 4 more days to go! Please support and pledge our Kickstarter campaign!
Besides introducing the new ReportFires app to different stakeholders and promoting our Kickstarter campaign, we were spending a lot of time on testing. We have been testing the beta version of the ReportFires app for more than one week.
The app requires iOS 13. The oldest iPhones support iOS 13 are the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. We did many tests on iPhone 6S Plus to evaluate the app functionality and performance.
“Why the ReportFires app supports iPhones only?” some backers ask. The main reasons are the camera system and edge computing. Edge computing enables the app to work without Internet connectivity. Two lines break first in wildfires – the power circuit and telecommunication cable. In order to make the AI smoke detection most useful, we design the app to process the Machine Learning image detection 100% on iPhone. ReportFires will detect wildfire smoke and make sound alert no matter the iPhone is online (connected to Internet) or offline. ReportFires will help you to detect wildfire even if you don’t have reliable network service.
We used some early-stage wildfire photos to test the app. We used different screen sizes to display the images. The app could detect 90%+ of all the wildfire smokes in the photos! Very impressive.
We’re lucky in Hong Kong that we don’t have frequent wildfires in the city. In order to simulate an actual user environment – an iPhone running ReportFires is monitoring the fire-prone forest near home, we tested the app in our partner’s office. We projected wildfire smoke photos on a huge screen and put an iPhone 6S on a tripod. The app successfully detected smoke in the photos.
We had a gathering last Saturday at our colleague’s home. The government has just loosened the COVID-19 social distance requirement. The team could finally have some good food and spend a good time together! The colleague lives in a suburban village near forests. There is a specific term for this kind of residential area, WUI (pronounced woooeeee), stands for wildland-urban-interface. Controlled burns of debris/rubbish are common in suburban villages. We were lucky to see a controlled burn that day! We tested if ReportFires could detect the controlled burn smoke:
It was our first field test. ReportFires performed perfectly!
ReportFires will be available for Free in App Store in October 2020.
Here are some images of early-stage wildfire smoke in Europe & Asia. Do you know where is it?
You cannot see the smoke?
No worry, use your iPhone. Please install ReportFires app first 🙂
Please support our ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign!
iPod / phone / internet communicator… this September, we re-invent the iPhone!
The year 2020 is unprecedented.
Many new things happened. And we do many new things to respond.
The first video of our ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign is 2-minute long. It is a little bit standard, somehow “boring”. Yup, it is more a B2B kind of stuff. We made it by exporting a Powerpoint presentation into video and then edited it to add background music. A week later we added voiceovers to make the video more telling and reduced the words in the video.
We wanted to make another video, more customer-oriented to better fit our target audience. It was out of our capacity to make a video with the wildfire scenes. The standard is high (and there are a few masterpieces ). We believed an animation would be a good option to demonstrate how the ReportFires app would help in a wildfire outbreak. A good animation can be less heavy for everyone in this tough year. And we had a good story to tell – ReportFires app can save a cat!
We planned to outsource the animation production to a freelancer on Fiverr. At the same time, TimelessFlick contacted me via LinkedIn. Just in time. (Thanks hardworking sales professionals, thanks LinkedIn!)
They’re a Singapore startup providing animation production services. Their work portfolio is good. They are promoting their services to start-ups in Hong Kong. The promotional price is good. The standard production time is 4-week.
My own requirement was simple – I wanted the animation ASAP. Must have it in 2-week time so that we would use it in our Kickstarter campaign. TimelessFlick listened to us. We listened to them as well what they need from a customer to produce an animation.
From the initial contact on Wednesday afternoon, 16-Sep-2020. Online meeting in the next day morning, we contracted in the afternoon, we provided the animation storyboard and voice script by the evening. Confirmed the storyboard and animation scenes during the weekend. And TimelessFick handed over the 39-second animation by Wednesday 2:39 pm, 23-Sep-2020!
We made it in 1-week! TimelessFlick over-achieved their commitment! They overcame time constrain to make things happen!
It is another timeless proof to me that the world is borderless! People in different cities can work together seamlessly to make great things!
Hope you like the animation video. Hope you like our message. Hope you will join us and support our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andrecheung/reportfires-your-ai-wildfire-detection-app-0
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
I was very busy last week. WFH 12/7! I need to buy something to verify I am connected to the reality…
I go to Kickstarter to find cool stuff and interesting ideas. Round pegs in the square holes. Pledge something. Change things. Move the human race forward.
Below is my list of best Kickstarter projects in September 2020. In ascending order. I develop this list with balanced objectivity and subjectivity. Selection criteria:
- Value for money
Hope you enjoy the list.
10. WonderSpray, by WonderSpray (gadgets)
To clean the butt by water spray is very hygiene and comfortable experience. It makes you want to visit Japan. The video is lovely!
9. BRZRKR, by BOOM! Studios (graphics novels)
It is Keanu Reeves. Period. It is about John Wick, isn’t it?
8. LARQ Pitcher, by Justin Wang (product design)
Clean drinking water is very important. An everyday tool with good UI. We need it.
7. Pure Over, by Pure Over (product design)
We need good coffee in between cups of clean water. All glass coffee-making experience. It works best with good coffee beans and purified water.
6. Silver Grip, by Fusion Creations (product design)
It seems very convincing that silver can kill viruses. It helps us reduce the use of paper tissue (to avoid direct contact of objects) and alcohol (to clean our hands after direct touching external objects).
5. Nanobag 4.0, by TipTop Things LTD (product design)
We use too many plastic bags! This Nanobag is very small and handy to carry. An Essential tool for grocery shopping.
We need many new things to live healthily nowadays.
4.Arsenal 2, by Ryan Stout (camera equipment)
Good photos are never enough. We need more, especially when developing a Kickstarter campaign! With this AI gadget, we can take photos like masters! AI is good! We should support anything powered by AI, right?
3. Unfound Backpack, by Unfound (accessories)
This backpack is beautiful. Handy for workday use with after-work exercise. It can store everything for a short trip. Looks cool. Designed in Taiwan. Made in Taiwan.
2.Cook System, by Wolf and Grizzly (design)
What does adventure mean to you?
Making a grilled fish with fresh lemon beside a river in a beautiful forest on a summer weekend. This stainless steel cooking tool is a masterpiece! It is almost the best of the best! However, to make a great and safe adventure, we need one more thing…
Your AI wildfire detection app
- Usefulness: checked, especially for those living in WUI
- Innovation: the world first Machine Learning wildfire detection app
- Design: single hand UI
- Environment-friendly: checked, it mitigates wildfire risks & damages
- Value for money: FREE app
All these Kickstarter projects are now live. Go to pledge them! Wish everyone a joyful September!
PS: this is my 100th blog post! Marvelous!
We are on the same journey of global WFH movement, aren’t we?
Working-From-Home is sometimes lonely. Solitude will bring new things.
And it brings us our first Kickstarter campaign! Cool!
Here is our “app journey” summary:
Jan: First Australia mega-bushfires. Then the coronavirus outbreak. The world was never the same.
Feb: Supply chains and transportation were not functioning! We developed the ReportFires web app to help people to mitigate wildfire risks and damages.
Mar: RoboticsCats ReportFires web app launched in Chiang Mai, Jakarta and Hong Kong.
Apr: we evaluated the lesson learned in the ReportFires web app
May: we finalize the ReportFires mobile app scope and design. It is an AI wildfire detection mobile app
Jun-Jul: R&D. We met a few mobile app developers to discuss outsourcing partnerships. Glad to team up with a very experienced development house to build the ReportFires mobile app!
Aug: work in progress! We target to launch ReportFires app in coming October!
What you can get from ReportFires?
- to help you to fight or flight, respond ahead of wildfire
- to protect your family and community from nearby wildfires
- to alert others of wildfires in the vicinity
What is ReportFires? What can it do?
It is a FREE AI wildfire detection app. It can
- alerts you of nearby wildfire reported by other users
- detects wildfire near your home
- helps you report wildfire location easily by map clicks
We build the mobile app because we want to help people to better respond to wildfires. The app will be a good marketing tool to showcase our technologies. Doing both is great!
Software development is now at full speed! Interim deliverables are very promising! We believe it will be a useful and popular app when it launches in October.
A good app is useful if there are people using it. We’re exploring different options to promote the new ReportFires mobile app, to drive adoption, and to help more people to know and use it. The challenge is we don’t have much budget to do it.
We want to market the app to the world. We need fundings. We’re a startup. Why not try crowd-funding? Let’s go Kickstarter!
We studied both successful and failed Kickstarter campaigns. There are a lot of tasks and subtle details to launch a campaign. Significant workloads for an IT start-up. Many tasks are professional activities of different domains. Moreover, mobile app is not a popular Kickstarter category and only about 20% of app campaigns can meet their funding goals!
With all potential challenges, we are committed to moving forward with our Kickstarter campaign. We don’t have all the skills we need, but we have abundant talents from our customers, partners, advisors, and friends who will help us!
Thanks for all the invaluable supports from our friends and advisors in different professions and countries! The coming Kickstarter campaign is only possible with their generous help in graphic designs, copywriting, proof-reading, gift production, online marketing, etc!
It is our common goal to build a better world that brings us to work together. It is our differences which create new great things!
After months of preparation, our Kickstarter campaign is going to launch in September. Many moving parts in the project. A few critical tasks are still work-in-progress. We will start promoting our Kickstarter campaign next week. The coming weeks will be very interesting and exciting! The preparation itself is a successful crowdsourcing experience!
What do you think about our Kickstarter campaign landing pages?
The ReportFires Kickstarter campaign will launch in early September. See you then!
It is a fun and meaningful journey. We invite you to join us~