A computer system which enables early warnings about bushfires to be sent to at-risk communities won a national award last night for a group from WA.
The key technology of the simulation system was developed by Winthrop Professor George Milne and colleagues at The University of Western Australia.
Professor Milne of UWA's School of Computer Science and Software Engineering is one of the developers of Aurora for the Regions -Australia's first national bushfire spread prediction system.
Professor Milne worked with Landgate and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to create Aurora.
Their work was recognised in the 22nd Western Australian Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards when they received the Regional and Society Domain Awards, and went on to claim an Australia-wide prize in Melbourne.
Aurora significantly minimises the impact of bushfire on life and property by predicting and simulating the direction, intensity and rate of bushfire spread in near real-time. This reduces the complexity of fire behavior analysis and will change the face of fire management in Australia.
"Wildfires occur on every continent except Antarctica and can cause significant damage to human life and property," Professor Milne said.
"The ability to rapidly predict wildfire behavior is therefore an essential component of both planned and unplanned fire management. Our wildfire simulation research aims to balance the requirements and constraints of predictive accuracy, rapid execution and availability of data.
"With our partners, we are developing a national system which links wildfire spread prediction, fire management and alert systems.
"The goal is to simulate bushfires in real time and rapidly communicate predictions of how they will spread via the web, email and the National Telephone Early Warning System."
Professor Milne said a central component of the system is a website showing real-time predictions based on satellite hotspot data and forecast weather data feeds.