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Joel Kelso

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Joel Kelso

Speaker: Joel Kelso, UWA

Joel Kelso is a computer scientist and software developer with 15+ years’ experience in modelling complex systems and creating simulation software systems. This research has included studying visual programming languages, verification technology for electronic systems, infectious disease spread and bushfire spread. He is the architect and primary developer of the UWA Australis bushfire simulator, which is a component of the Aurora/Australis system now in use that predicts the spread of all large bushfires in Western Australia. Australis and Aurora have received ICT and Innovation awards in WA, Australia and the Asia/Pacific region. His disease modelling research has a focus on pandemic and seasonal influenza, dengue virus and bluetongue virus, a ruminant disease spread by midges. Modelling research on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pandemic influenza mitigation strategies has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.

 Topic: Simulation Models for Bushfire Spread

The Aurora/Australis Bushfire Prediction System has been used operationally by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) for all major bushfires occurring in Western Australia over the past 2 years, including the Esperance and Waroona/Yarloop fires. The system is used to rapidly predict the future location of active fires. This automatic prediction technology provides information to incident management staff much more quickly than the previous manual methods.

The computation engine within this prediction system is known as the Australis bushfire spread simulator, which predicts the future location of a fire given its current position, fuel type and loads, slope and the forecasted weather. It is the product of long-term research at UWA with support from the Bushfire CRC and the Digital Regions Initiative, Commonwealth Department of Communications.

George and his team are developing a stand-alone system for use by rural bushfire brigades and farmers, which can be mounted in a ute or a truck. This will make the technology much more accessible to rural communities.

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