Bushfire Data Challenges

The ARDC’s Bushfire Data Challenges program has created a bushfire data commons to help researchers and authorities share life-saving information.
A bushfire at night

The Challenge

The unprecedented 2019/2020 Australian bushfires showed in full force the devastating impact bushfires can have on the natural landscape, the built environment and human health.

To protect our environment and communities, respond effectively to bushfires, and recover from them in the future, the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (2020) recommended supporting better decision making through the sharing of data.

The Approach

In partnership with the bushfire community, the ARDC has invested in developing innovative digital infrastructure solutions with the aim of improving Australia’s bushfire resilience, response and recovery.

We took a participatory design approach to developing projects within the Bushfire Data Challenges program. This facilitated collaborative partnerships between government agencies, industry, research institutes and other relevant stakeholders.

The Bushfire Data Challenges program was established as part of the ARDC’s Translational Research Data Challenges initiative to provide innovative and high-impact digital infrastructure solutions to real-world problems.


Over 14 months, we conducted targeted consultations including a series of facilitation meetings and participatory design workshops with 151 stakeholders. This process captured priority areas for national digital research infrastructure to address data challenges around Australia’s resilience and response to bushfires, and aid our recovery.

The ARDC convened key national stakeholders from the research and public sectors to design a national data capability that spans research, development and operational planning, response and recovery.

Our systematic consultation process identified areas for national digital research infrastructure, including:

  • fuel data
  • health data
  • data governance
  • a bushfire data commons. 

Projects were rolled out in these areas to benefit people involved in bushfire research, development, planning and response and, ultimately, all Australian citizens.

The Outcomes

Thirteen projects were undertaken to build comprehensive national data assets and create a shared bushfire modelling environment to support research, development, planning and response in the identified areas. These projects have now been completed, having:

  • established new or improved existing data collections
  • adopted platform solutions (or elements thereof) that enable researchers to collect or generate data, analyse data and produce FAIR output data
  • used underpinning infrastructure to store, access and analyse data
  • created legal, governance, policy, technology, collaboration and participation frameworks to enable success.

Learn more about these projects and access their outputs:

Contact the ARDC

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