Salomé Valero on How Prometeo Uses IoT to Protect Firefighters
In any team sport, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That is, when competing against your opponent, it’s critical to foster an environment of teamwork and collaboration; this dynamic gives the best shot at success. When Salomé Valero first learned about Call for Code, she was quick to recognize the gravity of the problem statement the program addresses. She knew that if she wanted to make an impact against an opponent as fierce as climate change, she couldn’t go it alone.
Salomé hit the ground running, learning about the problem statement in totality and then building a team to address a substratum of climate change that affects lives globally: wildfires. The result? Team Prometeo, a diverse team of technologists and firefighters, along with a nurse, who joined forces to develop a solution to save the lives of those battling wildfires.
The AI-based platform uses IoT devices to track firefighters’ exposure to the smoke and toxins they inhale so they can be pulled from the field before their health is compromised.
After the Prometeo team won the 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge, IBM, the Linux Foundation and an ecosystem of “tech for good” organizations got involved to support the deployment of this lifesaving solution. Since 2019, Prometeo has improved its technology immensely. Through field tests in Spain in early 2020 and 2021, the technology has incorporated firefighter feedback and anonymized technical data to improve the solution end to end.
Now, the Prometeo team is looking for the next round of enhancements to the solution, and needs your help. The solution has been open sourced under the name Pyrrha. You can read about the announcement here.
The Call for Code team was able to catch up with Salomé, to discuss her Call for Code experience, as well as why you should get involved in this mission:
Take us back to where it all started. What sparked your interest about the Call for Code program, and what made you decide to get involved?
I received a marketing flyer about Call for Code, and I visited the website to know more about the initiative. The message is simple but powerful. Because none of us alone can save the planet. But together we can. And in Barcelona, where I live, we suffer wildfires, which is a global problem. The issue today is that climate change is changing the behavior of fires. These fires are able to change the atmosphere at a continental scale. We’re losing large-scale diversity on a planetary level.
I’m a mother of two children who is worried about the environment. Firefighters are fighting against these monsters, these megafires, but they don’t have superpowers. It’s our responsibility to help them with technology.
If you want to help, and you have technical skills, Call for Code is the challenge. I saw it clearly. It’s a competition, but it’s also a collaboration. It’s a way to help to find solutions and at the same time you’re meeting amazing and talented people. You increase your skills, and the most important thing: your contribution can help save lives.
After winning the competition in 2019, describe what it felt like to see your solution progress with the support of IBM and the Linux Foundation from an MVP, to a tangible technology for real-world application?
It has been amazing to see Prometeo progress with the support of IBM and the Linux Foundation. We feel that we are on a journey, and we are not alone. There are a lot of people involved. We receive help from developers and partners — it’s a great ecosystem. And we also receive help and support from the firefighters’ community. Prometeo is for them, so they help us to define the roadmap and future of Prometeo.
Tech for Good is a powerful proof point of what can be accomplished when code and community collide. In your perspective, how important is it to encourage problem solvers of all learning levels to answer the call for the world? What would you say to those who may be on the fence with getting involved?
It’s really important to encourage problem solvers of all learning levels to answer the call because we’re facing global issues that we can only resolve together. And we must be involved in the solution. It’s our responsibility. It’s our duty to help with ideas, innovation and technology. On top of that, while you’re working on Call for Code, you meet new colleagues, you increase your skills in IT, you open your mind, you help, you collaborate and you can see your dreams becoming reality. Don’t hesitate: Answer the call! There are a lot of things to discover in this amazing community.
On July 27, it was announced that your technology was officially open sourced as the Pyrrha project, allowing problem solvers from around the world to contribute to the solution. What areas can you see contributors helping the most?
Contributors can help in areas like IoT, edge, networking capabilities, new sensors, analytics, integration with other data sources, security, performance or data management. Prometeo has hardware and software, so there are opportunities to help in both areas. It’s an opportunity to help for software developers, but also for hardware specialists, data scientists, network specialists and security experts. Firefighters and first responders can also add new requirements to the solution. Everyone can add value to the solution. We invite all of you to join the Pyrrha project.
Ready to get involved? Learn more about the story and the ways you can contribute to Pyrrha.