The Minderoo Foundation has set what even itself is claiming to be an audacious goal: Helping Australia extinguish bushfires within one hour by 2025.
For that to happen, Lee Goddard, who was appointed earlier this year to lead Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative after serving in the Royal Australian Navy for three decades, said it would not only require a concerted effort from various stakeholders, but also for satellite technology and predictive analytics to be leveraged.
Using such tools, Goddard said, would help firefighters put out fires as close to inception as possible.
“We need to see the fire. We need to have the mapping, the data, the Earth observation. We need to know the risk in the landscape before the fire occurs. We need to have sensors in place with the mapping,” he said, speaking during the virtual annual Nearmap event.
“We need to have this throughout Australia if we’re going to have any chance of identifying a dangerous fire and putting it out within one hour. We need to get the right information to decision-makers and, of course, we need to have clear community understanding.”
Goodard said that achieving the goal, however, is not nearly as impossible as it sounds, pointing out that technologies the Minderoo Foundation hopes to use already exists.
“If I can detect, potentially in the military, a flare going off in North Korea and a periscope coming out of the water one metre in the middle of the Indian Ocean, then these technologies need to be transferred and transferred as soon as practicable,” he said.
He also noted bushfires are not just an Australian problem, and therefore being able to solve the problem would have a global impact.
“While we are not first responders, providing our emergency service, our first responders the systems, the technology, the data, the mapping they require is absolutely critical on not just Australia’s continent, but globally,” Goddard said.
“Of course, we’ve worked very closely not just with partners in the United States and in Canada, but those in the Amazon, those in Sumatra, and other areas around the globe.”
The mission set out by Minderoo Foundation is one of three that the organisation has hopes to achieve under its Fire and Flood Resilience initiative. The others are around lifting the resilience of Australia’s 50 most vulnerable communities and halving hazard exposure in Australia’s 50 most prone fire and flood regions.