Pine forest near Rome to get protection from satellites, drones

MILAN, March 23 (Reuters) - Italian aerospace and defence group Leonardo and a consortium of IT companies are to use satellites, sensors and drones to protect a 1,000 hectare nature reserve on the outskirts of Rome.

The pine forest of Castel Fusano is about 30 kilometres from Rome’s historical centre and also stretches to the coast. The area has often been damaged by fires in summer, sometimes started deliberately.

Under the plan, the forest will be monitored from space via the Copernicus and PRISMA satellites, and from the earth, with drones and sensors, to provide quick information to police about any fires and criminal activity.

The European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) will co-fund the project presented on Tuesday by Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi and Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo.

“This is a pilot project to show how technology created for space activities can improve daily life,” said Leonardo CEO Profumo during a digital news conference.

Rome’s local administration has come in for criticism over the management of the city, including for problems with garbage collection and public transport.

“Today we want to show that Rome is already a smart city,” Raggi said at the news conference.

Leonardo will lead a consortium of partners including Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo and France’s Thales , e-Geos, a joint venture between ASI and Telespazio, and other small companies specialising in drones and communications management. (Reporting by Francesca Landini. Editing by Jane Merriman)