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Geospatial based Environment for Optimisation Systems Addressing Fire Emergencies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GEO-SAFE (Geospatial based Environment for Optimisation Systems Addressing Fire Emergencies)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30

Both the EU and Australia are prone to large destructive fires that can rapidly spread over woodland or bush commonly known as “wildfires”. Wildfires can affect thousands of square kilometres each year causing significant economic and ecological losses and often, human casualties. Climate change and increased utilisation of Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) in recent years have seen a growth of the number of wildfires and economic and human causalities in Europe, United States and Australia. Fire-fighting organisations and researchers in Europe and Australia need to collaborate to acquire additional knowledge and develop computational tools that can be used to assist in managing these devastating wild-fires.
It is important for society to be able to better combat wildfires so as to protect human lives, livestock, buildings, forests and other natural resources. It is vital that European fire managers have opportunities to develop their skills in dealing with wildfires by exchanging knowledge with Australian fire-fighting organisations and with researchers from different disciplines. Developing computational and training tools to assist with the management of wildfires will ultimately result in reducing loss of life and make better use of scarce resources.
GEO-SAFE has three overarching objectives: knowledge creation about aspects of wildfire; sharing existing know-how knowledge amongst European and Australian academics and fire-fighter organisations; skills development of individuals specialising in the development of fire-fighting tools located in universities, think tanks and public fire-fighter organisations. The specific objectives are:
1. Knowledge creation: 1. Developing tools enabling to set up an integrated decision support system optimizing the resources during the response phase by developing a dynamic risk cartography of a region with regard to the possibility of a wildfire. 2. Designing and testing a resource allocation tool for the response phase using the dynamic risk cartography. 3. Problems will be identified through connection with final users, and the proposed solution will be tested on simulated data. 4. Developing analyses of relevant management processes as well as training tools in order to facilitate the implementation of such solutions to be completed.
2. Sharing of know-how: Creation of a research and development network through the undertaking of secondments between universities, research institutes and fire-fighting organisations in Australia and Europe.
3. Skills development: training of doctoral students and post-doctoral scientists in aspects of firefighting and training of professional staff located in fire-fighting organisations.
1. Knowledge Creation: A number of computer and mathematical models have been developed for 1) modelling multi-period prescribed burns planning taking into account environmental aspects; modelling fire risks measured on network topologies; 2) models for fire spread using Small World models, a prototype of model for initial attack resource allocation based on mathematical programming; 3) a theoretical model for the firefighter problem on initial attack, multiple ignition and resource allocation; 4) a model for resource allocation related to protect assets in situ; 5) a large scale evacuation model is being enhanced to model human behaviours during wildfires. Data has been collected on historical wildfires to develop case studies for testing models and build scenarios for fuel management, firebreak location, and resource allocation for initial attack and lives and good protection.
2. Sharing of know-how: The project has thus far proved to be very successful with 77% of the planned secondments (115 planned) delivered amongst 17 organisations, 93% of the planned deliverables (14 planned) delivered and 100% of the planned workshops (3 planned) undertaken within the first period. RMIT, our Australian partner, has hosted 85% of GEO-SAFE secondments enabling European secondees to easily reach out to other Australian partners and end-users.
3. Dissemination and Communication: A total of 20 journal/conference papers or technical reports, 22 open lectures and 8 seminars. The estimated number of persons reached include: 2130 within the Science Community, 250 within Industry, 2390 members of the General Public, 500 in the Civil Society category, 565 Policy Makers and 618442 via the Social Media.
4. Skills development: 25 women and 56 men researchers and 25 professional staff from 17 organisations have gained knowledge in wild-fire issues. Twelve students have been enrolled in PhD programmes. Post-doctoral scientists supervise many of these PhD students and are gaining experience of supervision and developing research management skills. They are also enhancing their skills through interdisciplinary research. All GEO-SAFE researchers are gaining invaluable experience and knowledge through close interaction with end-users of their research (i.e firefighters), which facilitates a better understanding of the needs of the end-users and a more focused targeting of their research, thereby improving the likelihood of impact. GEO-SAFE end-users are developing an understanding of the capabilities of advanced modelling tools and assisting in their development.
The first results obtained are the following: use of VGI in sampling for bush fires; models for resource allocation in initial attack have been explored, including new features as uncertainty and several criteria. A comprehensive model has been proposed for locating shelters and some results have been achieved for the robust k-centre problem. It has been established that an adequate management based on controlled fires is able to reduce the risk of wildfires in risky landscapes while ensuring sufficient connectivity of habitat. First efficient algorithms for the hard versions and polynomial cases have been identified and well solved. A better understanding has been achieved in determining the practical complexity of problems related wildfire management and the conditions for efficient solutions.
Future progress: Decision makers and practitioners will be able to utilise the developed models for tackling prescribed burns planning, identify firebreaks location, resource allocation for initial attack and protecting life and goods. Coupling state-of-the-art wildfire simulation models with state-of-the-art urban-scale evacuation models will enable the ability to plan and evaluate large-scale evacuation procedures.
The GEO-SAFE project is delivering the following impact: Economic: contributing to knowledge advances in the development of computational and training tools in managing and suppressing wild-fires, which - once fully exploited through IPs in a separate research phase - will contribute to saving financial resources for public fire-fighting organisations in Europe and elsewhere. Practitioners and professional services: First stages of the development of improvements of management processes, fire-fighter training programmes and upskilling for wildfire control. This is being achieved through knowledge exchange between fire-fighters and researchers. Societal: The scientific knowledge so far obtained - once fully exploited via IP in future projects - will ultimately safeguard human lives, wildstock, the natural environment, infrastructure and other natural resources.