Introductions

Please introduce yourself to the rest of the community here. Tell us a bit about yourself, your projects and your relation to XPRIZE.

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 nick.azer@xprize.org! I’m here to help, and I’m excited about this important (and very relevant to my local Pacific Northwest!) Wildfires project.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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

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!

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.

Please let me know how I enter the competition. I have searched your website, but I cannot find any link. Many thanks. Terence Playdon

Hi! I’m Michael Gollner, currently an Associate Professor in Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. I perform research and teach several topics related to wildland fires including fire spread, ignition of communities and emissions from fires. I am also active on code committees related to protecting communities and serve on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Wildland Fire. I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UC San Diego.

This is a great topic and ripe for community-driven solutions which can really be accelerated with a contest like this. One aspect that is often forgotten is that prevention and planning is key. Once a fire is started on the worst hot, dry, windy days, there is often little we can do to stop or put out that fire. If structures were better prepared and fuel management performed in advance, outcomes could dramatically change. Early detection and response is also very important, however it may not be possible on the very worst days, like during the Camp Fire that burned down Paradise, but it still could play a huge role for notification and evacuation.

This, I know complicates how a contest is formed, but something we should keep in mind as a contest is prepared. How do we encourage both technology for rapid response and better preparation so that eventual disasters are small enough so that this response can actually make a difference!

I look forward to joining the conversation.

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.

Hi, I’m Adam. I look forward to the solutions that this XPRIZE will bring - it’s a worthy topic.

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

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.

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.

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.

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