NSW Govt to fight fire with artificial intelligence

Thursday, 27 August, 2020

NSW Govt to fight fire with artificial intelligence

As part of the 2020 Bushfire Data Quest, the NSW Government will be using artificial intelligence paired with space-derived data to fight against bushfires in NSW and nationally, speeding up detection and response times to prevent a repeat of Australia’s recent catastrophic season. Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said the 2020 Bushfire Data Quest will help predict future bushfire activity.

“Predicting the behaviour of bushfires is a hugely difficult problem, made more complicated by a myriad of factors such as fuel load, atmospheric conditions, soil moisture and availability of water,” said Barilaro.

Barilaro noted that data from satellites could help with the task of planning on-the-ground bushfire response, which traditionally relied upon the experience and instincts of firefighters, many of whom are often volunteers.

“We are investigating further how we use the data from multiple satellites and local sensor networks to create algorithms that will help detect fires earlier, predict fire behaviour, and help emergency services respond more effectively to protect homes, people and nature,” said Barilaro.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the Bushfire Data Quest will bring together a range of players in the innovation ecosystem, including universities, research institutes, and philanthropy and technology companies.

“It will tackle problems in new ways that can be difficult to replicate in traditional academic or industrial research settings. Teams of machine-learning specialists are working with bushfire researchers and leading data scientists, primed with information from multiple satellites and local sensor networks,” said Ayres.

Data Quest Lead Dr Cormac Purcell welcomed support from the NSW Government for the Bushfire Data Quest. Support for the 2020 Bushfire Data Quest builds on the NSW Government’s $5 million Space Industry Development Strategy, currently estimated at $420 billion.

“The Bushfire Data Quest — made possible by our challenge partner, Minderoo Foundation — aims to do great science by connecting brilliant minds to big questions. By drawing on a wide range of experience, skills and viewpoints, the teams will naturally create better outcomes. We harness the best practices from the private, academic and non-profit sector to accelerate research for the benefit of all humanity,” said Dr Purcell.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/wladimir1804

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