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Unprecedented Scale of Australia Bushfires Necessitates Disruptive Technologies and Alignment of Regulatory Policies to Improve Outcomes
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Australia encountered the most devastating bushfire in its history from July 2019 to March 2020, known as the Black Summer. By the week ending December 24, 2019, the country recorded its hottest week and the hottest December. The bushfire destroyed 21% of Australian forest (except in Tasmania) and resulted in an estimated loss of A$4.5 billion in its tourism industry and cost Sydney between A$12 million and A$50 million per day due to the haze from bushfire smoke.The unprecedented event necessitates ongoing collaboration among various stakeholders in the value chain, including researchers, government agencies, and technology providers, which is imperative for any participant to thrive in Australia’s firefighting solutions market. With several solutions needed and no single vendor capable of delivering total solutions, creating synergies through strategic partnerships within the technology ecosystem and with fire departments and research organizations is vital. Such collaborations will lead to technology focus that includes digital twins, higher use of satellite data, gaming technology, more sophisticated mapping and modeling tools, and improved integration of fire and atmospheric/weather data.There is an urgent need to align policies with technological changes and innovative ways of leveraging private sector resources and expertise to transform the industry. It is critical to coordinate solutions, firefighting resources, and expertise across jurisdictions (cities and states in Australia). The next 3–5 years, until 2026, will be the defining years to address these internal gaps.The firefighting solutions market must respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic with comprehensive scenario-based planning and risk mitigation strategies to address the unprecedented changes in social behavior, business activity, and human resource management.
This study focuses on firefighting solutions for bushfires. Bushfires (also known as forest fires, wildfires or brushfires) are fires that spread rapidly and uncontrollably in woodlands/grasslands. Disruptive technologies that impact the future of firefighting discussed in this study include Big Data analytics (BDA), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), robots, drones, smart personal protective equipment (PPE), smart materials, and smart communications.
The research excludes the passive fire protection market (such as fire-resistance-rated walls/floors, fire/smoke dampers, fire doors), fire detectors, alarms, and sprinklers in buildings. It defines end users as solutions buyers, such as Australian fire departments and state emergency services.
The study presents main market challenges, disruptive technologies that improve firefighting outcomes, key critical successful factors, and examples of innovative companies.
Author: Ivan Fernandez
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