We are investing a total of $2.4 million, with $3.095 million in co-investments from partners, in five projects that will create translational research Bushfire Data Commons (BDC).

To protect Australian citizens from the dangers of bushfires, firefighters and planners need to be able to model and predict bushfire behaviour e.g., to allocate bushfire responders or plan prescribed burning and urban development. The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) systematic consultation process identified bushfire behaviour modelling and the relevant data as a focus area of the Bushfire Data Challenges. The Bushfire Data Challenges program aims to build comprehensive national data assets in these areas and create a shared bushfire modelling environment to support research, development, planning and response. The recommended strategic opportunities for a Bushfire Data Commons (BDC) are :

  • Aggregated and harmonised burnt extent fire history data on a national scale
  • Aggregated and harmonised fuel data on a national scale
  • A fire behaviour modelling platform

Aggregated and harmonised burnt extent fire history data on a national scale

Partners: GeoScience Australia, Emergency Management Spatial Information Network Australia (EMSINA)

This work  will establish a nationally aggregated and harmonised data asset on past fires burnt extent boundaries for Australia. Through collaboration between national, state and territory agencies,  standardised state and national products would be produced. This work will support the agencies for the supply of datasets on geospatial boundaries of past fires, to fill a long-standing gap and demand for national fire history datasets. With improved satellite imagery data supply and cloud computing processing power, a satellite derived historical fire history for the nation would be created as well. This work will support bushfire research as well as National Emergency Management, National Fire Danger Ratings System and associated risk management operations.

Aggregating and harmonising fuel data on a national scale

Partners: TERN, The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE)

Fuel data describes the combustible materials in a defined space and its related attributes such as type, amount, structure and moisture. Accurate estimation of fuel, alongside information about the type of vegetation at a location is key to managing and mitigating bushfire risk. Multiple organisations across different jurisdictions collect and use fuel data. However, there is no coordinated approach and community standards to harmonise, aggregate and share fuel data parameters across different stakeholders.  This work will define implementation processes and systems for ongoing sharing of fuel data and related attributes for meeting the needs of multiple stakeholders and to better enable Australia-wide bushfire response and preparedness.

Improving remote sensing fuel data on a national scale

Partner: The Australian National University (ANU)

The efficient national monitoring of fuel conditions is very important to understand bushfire behaviour and risk, as highlighted by the Bushfire Earth Observation Taskforce, the NSW Bushfire Inquiry and the National Royal Commission for Natural Disaster Arrangements.  This work will contribute towards compiling and sharing existing field and remote sensing observations of fuel attributes such as fuel load, structure and moisture in a national database. This national database will be used to improve remote sensing products and will be publicly available to support other research programs. The national fuel attributes databases will have direct benefits to bushfire planning and response given the fuel data will also be readily available for assessing bushfire risk, predicting fire behaviour, informing suppression efforts and planning prescribed burns.

A fire behaviour modelling platform

Partner: CSIRO

The fire behaviour modelling platform will be a bridge from data acquisition, processing and modelling to operation and assessing bushfire risk. The platform will be developed as a proving and testing ground for new data, models and analytics. It will be a collaborative, open environment for researchers, agencies and stakeholders, and it will be open for use by stakeholders for research as well as operational evaluation. The aim is to create a model where there is a clearly articulated process for translating bushfire research into operational use from a predictive modelling perspective.

Framework for sharing bushfire data and tools between jurisdictional agencies

Partners: National Council for Fire & Emergency Services (AFAC)

The objective of the project is to deliver a robust and enduring framework to facilitate the development of new understanding of bushfire behaviour through simple access to core data sets. This work will look at technological and trust barriers, and barriers associated with sharing data and tools. AFAC proposes to use its extensive collaboration network to create an enduring capability.

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