Australia: Professor George Milne from the University of Western Australia’s School of Computer Science and Software Engineering and his team developed a computer simulation programme, Aurora. It aims to provide fire authorities a better assessment of risk management and possible outcomes before a decision is taken.
Using Aurora, fire authorities can add satellite information to new software to remotely sense and predict fire behaviour. According to Prof Milne, it offers greater speed at mapping future fire movement and is very simple to use. “It doesn’t require you to be a skilled fire behaviour analyst to be able to predict where the fire’s going to be,” he said.
Data such as the fire’s location, ignition point, topographical and fuel load maps are fed into the system, as well as information from the Bureau of Meteorology on current and forecast weather conditions. It runs a simulated map of where the fire is expected to be at certain time points. That information could then be sent to fire managers on the ground via email and sms.
This three year USD 5.6 million project between UWA, Landgate and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, will be trialled live this bushfire season. Prof Milne’s team will be accessing data from a helicopter which uses high tech digital camera technology providing graphic fire detail and improved incident mapping.