Wildfires present a complex, daunting and catastrophic challenge in today’s world. Threatening lives and costing billions in economic damages, the problem will continue to get worse as temperatures rise globally. How can we improve wildfire response to prevent the loss of life and assets?

In this project, XPRIZE is collaborating with partners worldwide to design a Wildfires Prize Design that drives scalable innovation that can rapidly detect and extinguish wildfires; a fully integrated autonomous system that detects, responds and suppresses wildfires, before escalation into a large fire event.

To be clear, XPRIZE does not believe that all fires should be extinguished - as we recognize the importance of fires in maintaining biodiversity and thinning fuel load. However, given the increasingly catastrophic consequences of some fires, we feel it is important to develop this capability to have at the disposal of fire managers around the world. The deployment of that tool, like any, should then be subject to careful and rigorous evaluation and regulation.

Click on the Register button in the top-right corner to create an account and join this effort, or click here to learn more before signing up.

Introductions

NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 90 admin
Please introduce yourself to the rest of the community here. Tell us a bit about yourself, your projects and your relation to XPRIZE.

Comments

  • NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 90 admin
    I'm Nick Azer, your online community manager. I live in Portland, Oregon in the US. My background is in social media and blogging; I've been community manager here for the Amazonia, Zero-Waste Mining, and Carbon Removal prize designs, and for the last 6 years I have been the social media manager & content curator for the Google Lunar XPRIZE.

    If you have any community-related questions or need help, feel free to send me a message here anytime or email me at [email protected]! I'm here to help, and I'm excited about this important (and very relevant to my local Pacific Northwest!) Wildfires project.
  • DavidPoli DavidPoli Posts: 27 XPRIZE
    Greetings! I'm David Poli, a Senior Associate on the Impact & Design team here at XPRIZE. I'm a project manager on the Wildfires Prize Design, and I previously worked on the Zero-Waste Mining Prize Design. Prior to that I received my MBA and a sustainability certificate from UCLA after several years as an energy engineer.

    I'm looking forward to tackling this urgent problem, not just because I live in LA (with fires on my doorstep!) but because of its intersection with so many other projects we're working on here at XPRIZE.
  • DanSelzDanSelz Los AngelesPosts: 36 admin
    Hi all! I'm Dan Selz, Product Manager on the Impact & design team. I've also worked on the Coral Restoration and Carbon Removal prize designs. I've been at XPRIZE for two years now. Prior to that, got my MBA from USC and before that I worked in entertainment and politics.

    Really excited to hear all of your thoughts on how we tackle this daunting issue.
  • EtiEti Posts: 21 XPRIZE
    Hi everyone! I'm Eti, a senior researcher with XPrize, working on the wildfire prize. My background is in global policy, politics and international development, specializing in risk. Before XPrize, I worked at the UN Development Programme on Innovation for the SDGs and global campaigns. I have an MPP from the University of Cambridge and over the past decade worked with / advised governments, IGOs, startups and nonprofits across global hubs. Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts and expertise!
  • RichardNRichardN Posts: 1
    edited August 22
    Hello! I'm Richard, and I'm a Research Associate on the Impact & Design team. Over the past few months, I helped compile research for the Wildfires Prize Design. My background is in astrophysics, and I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering.
  • pzazzdaypzazzday San Diego CAPosts: 4
    Hi! I'm Sherry. New to this group and very excited to see how this project can help remedy this catastrophic phenomenon.
    I recently retired after a 26 year career in Nursing. I have used my training to become a problem solver and utilized this throughout my career to implement change and improvement. I was recognized by Governor Walker of WI for establishing a protocol for identifying fraud within the WI Medicaid program and implementing an education tool to prevent future fraud.
    I have also tackled a problem within the medical community of unwanted medications being dumped into our water supply or getting into the wrong hands for illegal purposes. I have a patent on a product currently being used to reduce the impact of unwanted medications by making them inert and safe for disposal without further pollution to our environment and reducing the amount of narcotics directed into the illegal drug stream attributing to the current drug epidemic.
    I am anxious to join with others in finding solutions.
  • ravenswillravenswill Posts: 1
    Patrick Brady checking in from Santa Fe NM. Founder ‘The Axis Movement’.. I am an Irish ( borderline) mythical storyteller who discovered blacksmithing as a means to inspire young men toward heroic ideals. The Axis Movement intent to take young men on a journey to forge an axe, then go into the forest and work to build a log cabin. Once upon a time ( in a far and distant land) there lived a man who grew larger than life and his story was spoken, to be remembered in order to inspire and guide the children of a mapless desert. The forest, without healthy interaction from the young and strong , is abandoned, smoke rising from its heart. Our young men in cities, frustrated, wanting to be useful, to have purpose. An old African proverb said that if the village will not embrace our young men they will burn it down to feel its warmth.
    I have worked in the field of recovery ( addiction) for 27 years and have gathered stories to move now toward light
  • jramireztsyljramireztsyl Posts: 1
    Hola! Joaquin Ramirez from San Diego. Moved in 2013 from Spain to wildfire wonderland. Most of my professional life devoted to forestry and the fire world. I teach Technologies on Wildland Fires at the MsC Wildland Fire program from University of Leon (SP) and work with agencies worldwide crafting technological tools to better understand this global challenge. Couple of favorite quotes on fire:
    "Fire is a good servant but a bad master"
    "The better we are fighting small fires, the bigger they get the ones that scape"
    Glad to join the discussion
  • cedwardscedwards Posts: 14 ✭✭
    Hi all. I'm Cliff, an innovation consultant and open innovation challenge problem solver. I live in the Canadian province of British Columbia, rapidly becoming a wildfire hot spot. I grew up in and love our forests, and the year to year evolving and growing wildfire problem concerns me a great deal. I have some ideas I hope to contribute and know that together we, and this challenge, can make a tremendous positive impact. Onward and upward!
  • GaelGael Posts: 1
    Hi, I'm Gael Bárcenas-Moreno (before known as Gema), I'm Researcher and teacher at Seville University in Spain. My researches are focus on fire effects on soil, with special attention on fire effect on soil microbiology. In Mediterranean areas, fire form part of the ecosystem, but the increase in frequency and severity together with the high human pressure on forest area, has change the role of fire in the ecosystem and it has converted into a serious threat under global change scene. In the same line that presented jramireztsyl, I think that we should focus on the correct use of fire instead the over-protection. I hope this community could figure out some of the problems related with wildfire and pre- and post-fire management.
  • TerenceTerence Posts: 3
    Please let me know how I enter the competition. I have searched your website, but I cannot find any link. Many thanks. Terence Playdon
  • dbuckley14dbuckley14 Posts: 1
    Hi everyone. i am David Buckley, COO of Technosylva working closely with Joaquin Ramirez here in La Jolla, CA. i have worked the past 30 years applying spatial modeling in the forestry and forest protection / wildfire discipline focusing on the integration of advanced fire behavior models with end-user GIS enable applications. My interest is operationalizing fire science to enhance our fire professionals ability to make more informed decisions for suppression and protecting lives, home and the environment. i am excited about interacting with this group so we can continue to learn about opportunities to enhance our understanding of fire for both firefighter and public safety.
  • akbakb Posts: 106 ✭✭✭
    Hi, I'm Adam. I look forward to the solutions that this XPRIZE will bring - it's a worthy topic.
  • NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 90 admin
    Welcome everyone, we're excited to have you here! If you haven't already, you can visit our Feedback section to join the latest discussions around the Prize Design - including the Proposed Prize Design and the Obstacles to outdoor testing environments with partners thread. Looking forward to all of your feedback, and we'll be adding more discussions on a regular basis! @akb @dbuckley14 @mgollner @Terence @Gael @cedwards @jramireztsyl @pzazzday
  • UVMIUVMI Posts: 2
    Greetings, my name is Steve and I am an expert on Utility Vegetation Management practices, laws and regulations, and best management practices. I have investigated and served as an expert in numerous major fires in the states and abroad, and am also trained in wildfire cause investigations. Living here in California I am very familiar and involved with the major fires that have occurred and I testified, at the CPUC request, about best management practices to "avoid" the fires. I am also well versed in available technologies ranging from Lidar and remote sensing to UAVs, weather sensors, and associated software. I understand the focus on identification and rapid response mitigation but I am really more interested in "prevention" of the fires in the first place. I have solutions to that dilemma and would be happy to discuss at length. I look forward to this community discussion.
  • GloriaFloraGloriaFlora Posts: 1
    Hello Everyone! Impressive group already. And I'm happy to join. I spent 23 years in the USFS, including as a wildland firefighter and eventually serving as the Forest Supervisor on the largest national forest in the continental U.S.. I then founded Sustainable Obtainable Solutions (SOS), a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of public lands and of the plant, animal and human communities that depend on them. I've led states and regions in building multi-stakeholder driven climate change action plans in the US and Mexico and co-authored a comprehensive climate change adaptation guidebook. As a project of SOS, I founded the U.S. Biochar Initiative in 2009 and served as it's director for 7 years.
    For the past 7 years I've been a Board member and Director of the Northeast Washington (state) Forest Coalition. We work extensively with federal and state land managers on large, cross-boundary forest restoration projects to increase the resilience of forests in the face of climate change, drought, phytomigration and wildfires, which includes promoting the use of prescribed fire and managed wildfire.
    I'm co-founder/co-creator of TerraFlora Permaculture Learning Center where we practice and demonstrate regenerative agriculture, soil building, improving soil moisture retention, agroforestry, polyculture and perennial cropping, silvopasturing, small scale forest restoration and livestock integration for fuels management.
    I agree with the comments above that making our forests more resilient is as important or more so than extinguishing fires. Our 100 year history of fire suppression is what got us the ecologically unbalanced, fire-prone forests that we have today.
    With the extensive and ever-growing Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) we likewise need to engage private landowners to make their properties more wildfire resistant.
    But fire has a critically important role to play in ecosystem health, including insect and disease control and fuels reduction. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • davidmarvindavidmarvin Posts: 1
    David Marvin, co-founder and CEO of Salo Sciences. We deploy satellite imagery and artificial intelligence systems to help organizations scale up their conservation and land-based climate change mitigation practices. Wildfire is a major focus of ours: we are building the California Forest Observatory as well as working as part of a California Energy Commission funded effort to build the next-generation of wildfire hazard mapping and prediction models.

    I'd just like to echo what @mgollner and others have said about prediction and prevention. We were recently part of an early wildfire detection and response workshop that brought together state & federal agencies, wildfire operations personnel, and scientists. Again and again those who work on wildfire detection and response made very clear that organizations like the USFS and Calfire are extremely good at finding and putting out fires before they spread and cause damage—and they do so with ~95% of them every year. It is those outliers like the Camp Fire (Paradise) or Tubbs Fire (Santa Rosa) driven by extreme events that are the problem, especially anomalous wind events that we can barely measure, nevermind forecast. However, it was the view of these same fire operations and intelligence personnel that even if a response could be mounted within minutes the success of containment would still be extremely low. Further complicating containment in these situation is that air attack is a non-starter because of the extreme wind conditions that are driving the spread in the first place.

    I am not suggesting this competition is misguided. There are many under-resourced jurisdictions globally that could use such a rapid response and containment system. However, we need equal focus on how these systems are paired with preventative actions like fuels management (including prescribed and managed fire) and home hardening. At minimum, a system for rapid notification and evacuation of those whose safety/lives are threatened by a growing wildfire should be a mandatory part of any solution for this competition.
  • chaparralianchaparralian Posts: 1
    Richard Halsey here. I'm the director of the California Chaparral Institute, an educational/research non-profit focusing on native shrublands ecosystems, and in relation to the work here, helping communities live safely with wildfire.

    I want to follow up on what David Marvin said above. His comments were spot on. Trying to stop or control the wildfires that do nearly all the damage (lives lost, homes burned) is an impossible task. A better approach is to help communities become more fire resilient. Fuel treatments have limited value in wind-driven fires, but home hardening and proper evacuation/prep plans can and do save lives. The goal is to have people be able to sit in their yards and watch the fire go by. Extreme wildfires are inevitable. The destruction of our communities is not.

    Perhaps changing the focus of this project in line with the above direction might prove to be more useful.

    More below about why Cal Fire and the USFS are approaching wildfires in the wrong way and what to do about it:
    http://www.californiachaparral.org/fire/deargovnewsom.html
  • DTurnerDTurner Executive Director Posts: 2
    I am Dan Turner a 40 year fire professional/manager with CAL FIRE that included command/management responsibility for hundreds of WUI fires including many of the most damaging in state history. Educated in forestry, all hazard fire management and community planning. Currently serve as Executive Director of countywide Fire Safe Council doing community WUI fire outreach and engagement and Executive Director of Urban Forest Ecosystem Institute at Cal Poly University-San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly is developing a holistic multi-discipline WUI Fire Institute that explores fire and forest management, WUI information and data analysis, research, and education. Cal Poly academic disciplines include forestry, fire protection engineering, city and regional planning, aerospace, economics, architecture, landscape architecture, range management, biology, environmental engineering, transportation planning, environmental management, animal science, and agricultural engineering.

    My experience tells me that WUI fires are a unique fire protection problem that unfortunately seems to be addressed from one of 2 extreme perspectives either as forest fire problem that affects the built environment or a built environment fire problem that affects forests; the reality is it is both simultaneously and successful approaches to mitigate the problem include both of these aspects working in concert.

    I agree with previous poster that detecting new fires in the California environment is not a major challenge (it is in other regions however); the most daunting problem for fire managers is knowing where the fire is at any given moment (especially at night), its behavior, trajectory, assets at risk on that trajectory, and the ability to develop a successful management plan "on the fly" that will provide for public safety, responder safety, while minimizing built and natural environment damage.

    Prevention, mitigation to reduce unwanted results from fires not prevented, community design and preparedness, efficient and effective suppression methods, and understanding the total role and impact of these on the environment are crucial to a long term solution for this wicked problem.

    Wicked problem that needs a very new look, glad to see this project happening!
  • CamCarbonCaptureCamCarbonCapture Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Hi I’m Michael Evans CEO at Cambridge Carbon Capture on the U.K. We have been experimenting with the by-product from our Carbon Capture process, it has uniquely fire retardant properties and we have demonstrated that a coating of our material on flammable materials can make them fire proof. Our idea is to dump our slurry from a plane in the path of a forest fire to create a fire break. We would like to partner with people on this group to conduct a trial- it would be great if this X-Prize would initiate collaborations and fund the trial.
  • ronallarsonronallarson Posts: 1
    Ron Larson signing in - as a retiree predominantly now working on biochar (see above comment by Gloria Flora also). Clearly containment expenses will decrease with early detection; presumably this will involve use of satellites. But my experience in Colorado also says that way too little is also being spent on prevention of wildfires. I worked a bit on this (unanimously passed) bill: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sjr17-002. A very similar bill was passed earlier this year by Washington State's legislature. So I hope Xprize will later expand into wildfire prevention. Biochar seems to me to be the least cost approach - with the potential to solve many other global problems as well.
  • AbbyGAbbyG Project Associate Posts: 1
    Hi all!

    My name is Abby Gritter and I work for Blue Forest Conservation, a non-profit firm focused on innovative finance solutions. We developed our signature financial product, the Forest Resilience Bond (FRB), alongside the US Forest Service in order to finance forest management projects (including fuels reduction) on public lands to reduce wildfire risk. Blue Forest secures investors to finance the up front forest work, and these projects create a variety of ecosystem services co-benefits that beneficiaries pay for over time, reimbursing investors with a small return (~2.5%). In summary, this financial innovation solves a major cash flow issue for USFS and implementation partners, allowing this needed restoration work to be done at an accelerated pace and scale. We successfully launched our first FRB in Yuba National Forest in 2018, and are working with other national forests across the Western US to replicate and expand this model.

    While we at Blue Forest are not engaged in fire detection or suppression technologies, based on the numerous comments above expressing interest in fire prevention and fuels reduction, there could be ways for the Blue Forest team to contribute our knowledge and experience to that conversation.

    Looking forward to collaborating!
  • AlmogAlmog CEO and Co-founder IsraelPosts: 15
    My name is Ariel Zilberstein, CEO and Co-founder of Almog Rescue Systems. My background is in Electrical Engineering and in the field of Unmanned Systems. When the death of 44 people in one of the worst fire disaster Israel had ever in 2010. When I heard experts say that there is nothing could be done to stop fire spread. And, when I understand that hundreds mill people all over the globe are facing with this threat daily, I've decided to devote my self to create a safer place to live in. I've established a new venture with a purpose to protect human life and property from wildfires. I've been doing that full time over the past 5 years. I'm exited to be a part of this group, hope to bring a sustainable solution together. Looking forward to collaborating.
  • NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 90 admin
    Thank you @Almog @AbbyG @ronallarson @CamCarbonCapture @DTurner @chaparralian @davidmarvin @GloriaFlora and @UVMI for your introductions here - great to have you in the community! If you haven't already, you can check out our most recent discussion topics on Autonomy, Tests to Include, and Design of the Test Fire. Fantastic feedback from everyone so far - it's been really valuable to have such expertise in the community!
  • eaguilameaguilam Mechanical Engineer. Posts: 2
    I’m Ernesto Aguila, from Santiago de Chile. I’m Mechanical Engineer, I worked in the oil industry for a long time now I’m "retired". I have a pending patent for invention related to Wildfire Extinction; please see Data Sheet N°1 that explain fundamentals of it, in one page:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s-W5Ja6qN9BistAtPTmfq0jwL51A0vuD/view?usp=sharing
    Now , I am working on the innovations necessary to put my invention into practice and in searching financing.
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