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Researchers from the University of Melbourne and partners at the University of California, San Diego are working together to design and build resilient streaming sensor networks for emergency response such as bushfires.

As part of Fire Action Week, an international seminar will be held at the University of Melbourne looking at how researchers are responding directly to the needs of fire-fighters to enable them to work more effectively.

Professor Bill Moran, Research Director of the Defence Science Institute (DSI), a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) believes the Emergency services sector can significantly improve the availability of critical information to better manage incidents by exploiting new and emerging surveillance strategies.

“Traditional areas, which have informed the sector such as Defence and Environmental Monitoring are rapidly evolving. However, other areas such as Social Networking and logistics offer significant promise. We are looking at how surveillance with new technologies can reduce the likelihood of major emergencies. Collaborative research is also examining how to manage effective responses during an event and how to best mitigate the impacts after an event,” he said.

The Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission called after the Black Saturday fires of February 2009, noted there was a need for more “forward-looking research.”

Dr Allison Kealy, a senior lecturer in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering said progress was being made in disaster management.

“Work is being done to improve the state of IT facilities for Emergency services. Our micro-sensor networks are one such program and are proving to be resilient. They provide vital and timely intelligence from manned and unmanned points,” she said.

Speakers presenting at the seminar include Craig Lapsley, Victorian Fire Services Commissioner and Ron Serabia, Captain, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

What:    Surveillance strategies for improved emergency management- An International Perspective Seminar
When:   Tuesday 20 November, 8.30 am-1.00 pm
Where:  Coles Theatre- Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, 200 Leicester Street, Carlton