Aggregated and Harmonised Fuel Data on a National Scale

Delivering key harmonised data for a national bushfire data commons
A board showing the fire danger rating of the day with a fire behind it
Who will benefit
National and state fire agencies, which will have access to consistent and validated data to better prevent, respond to and control bushfires

The Challenge

All states and territories maintain their own fuel datasets, often distributed across a variety of government agencies. There are also national datasets for vegetation (NVIS) and land use (ALUM). There are no common standards across these datasets. 

With more data, new research and new tools being developed, a bushfire data commons is needed to: 

  • combine and harmonise data
  • develop an expanded, flexible framework that can be applied to new uses and allows adoption of new fire behaviour models.

The Approach

This project was the culmination of the first 5 projects in the Understanding Bushfire Behaviour group of projects. It sought to build a national data commons of aggregated and harmonised fuel data. Key steps included:

  1. the establishment of national data content standards for fuel attributes
  2. gap analysis:
    • identifying data stakeholders in state agencies and their data sharing capabilities
    • investigating use of various data sources
    • analysing technological barriers as well as trust and barriers associated with sharing data
  3. curating, harmonising and aggregating fuel data from state agencies, including mechanisms for ongoing improvement. The ability to connect to various state and territory datasets will be built and maintained
  4. collaboration and coordination with other partners working on bushfire fuel data, including creating validation datasets and processes for capturing fuel data from remote sensing, and the sustainable delivery of national fuel data layers.

This project is the capstone of the following fuel-related Bushfire Data Challenges projects:

The Outcomes

This project has delivered key elements towards a bushfire fuel data commons, supporting the use of the national fuel data in national bushfire simulation and other fire prediction systems. These elements include fuel classification, algorithms used to calculate fuel attributes and frequently updated observed fuel attributes such as load, structure and dryness.

Usable outputs will be available soon.

Who Will Benefit

  • National and state fire agencies can now simulate bushfire spread and behaviour based on improved, nationally consistent and validated fuel data.This allows them to plan suppression strategies, future resources needs and warn communities of imminent danger.
  • With access to better methods to handle fuel data, the Australian Fire Danger Rating System can get more accurate and precise understanding of impending risk.

Deb Sparkes explained how the ARDC’s other bushfire fuel projects come together in this capstone project in the November 2023 Bushfire Data Challenges Forum. View the recording and slides (DC006).

The Partner

  • Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC)

Contact the ARDC

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