Indian American teen wins Children’s Climate Prize for her project ‘AI Against Forest Fires’


An Indian American teenager from Saratoga, California, has won the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize for 2021, for her project on using AI to prevent forest fires.

On Monday, November 22, 15-year-old Reshma Kosaraju was chosen from among the finalists for her project, which uses artificial intelligence to predict forest fires.

The Children’s Climate Prize (CCP) was originally started by the Swedish company Telge Energi. It’s been given every year since 2016 to kids between the ages of 12 and 17, from across the world, who have made “extraordinary efforts” to improve life on the planet for children now and in the future.

The prize celebrates and sheds light on young innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers, and conservators in order to spread hope and inspire others, the website said.

This year, the prize organizers report that a record number of young people from 32 different countries were nominated for the prize. The winners of the Children’s Climate Prize are celebrated at a gala event in Stockholm, Sweden. They receive a diploma, medal and prize money of SEK 100,000 to continue developing their projects.

Kosaraju’s project notes that fires are a natural part of a forest’s ecosystem, but the underlying conditions have changed. The project, ‘AI Against Forest Fires’ can predict forest fires with almost 90% accuracy, said the press release.

To build her deep learning model, she used weather information like temperature, humidity, wind speed, and how dry the soil is. She also looked at human behavior.

Reshma uses open data, such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, soil moisture and human behavior to, with the help of AI, calculate where and when the probability of a forest fire occurring is greatest. She hopes to turn her program into an app that will be useful to fire fighters. She also hopes it will help people who live in areas where forest fires are likely.

“Reshma hopes the Children’s Climate Prize will draw attention to her project so that more people can become aware of the AI model’s existence,” the website said.

Forest fires have become a global problem, causing over 339,000 premature deaths worldwide – and threatening biodiversity by destroying animals and nature, the press release says.

The jury which selected Reshma as the winner said that climate change and forest fires are becoming more intense and longer-lasting. “Reshma represents the best of youth entrepreneurship: brave, innovative and solution-oriented. Her model uses AI and technology in an innovative and savvy way in order to accurately predict the risk of forest fires while also accounting for the independent variables of climate, weather and human behavior.”