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June 27, 2013

GIS Ideal to Predict Characteristics of a Wildfire

By Anuradha Shukla, TMCnet Contributor

Geographic information systems or GIS has the ability to predict where a dangerous wildfire is going to start, says Gabe Schmidbauer, GIS professor at American Sentinel University.

GIS is designed to quickly analyze geographic data about fire-contributing conditions and this can help in the right kind of wildfire planning and prevention of such hazardous episodes. This technology was recently put to test for a fire episode in Colorado where over a dozen huge fires are destroying the area.

Schmidbauer notes that GIS can predict the characteristics of a wildfire as it can effectively analyze multiple data layers.

GIS software vendor Esri recently created an online GIS mapping system to show the extent of the burning in order to demonstrate how this technology can make a positive impact on the communities.

This map system can be scrolled in or out to cover the area the user wants to see and in addition to the problems in Colorado, GIS can also indicate issues related to large fires in Idaho, Utah and Arizona.  

These maps also include social network hotspots and users can simply click to see the relevant data they are searching for. Other helpful factors that lead to fire control are the current wind patterns as these are critical in understanding how fires develop.

If fire fighters are equipped with this information they can definitely help in controlling disasters that may otherwise grow and cause harm to people in the area.

“The complex nature of wildfire dynamics requires the analysis of multiple disparate datasets such as housing, vegetation and weather for wildfire planning and prevention and can help predict when the current conditions are right for a wildfire,” said Schmidbauer.

An analysis will help people make an informed decision such as if they should stay put or run towards safer ground. They will also know when to simply pull out without thinking about what belongings they are leaving behind.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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