Dublin Fire Brigade aims to predict fire hotspots with big data analytics

5 Apr 2022

Dublin Fire Brigade truck. Image: William Murphy

The goal is to categorise areas based on risk through the use of datasets, similar to analytics used by US firefighters.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has partnered up with Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) to explore the benefits of big data and predictive analytics for fire services.

The organisations have assembled a dataset that uses information from groups such as Ordnance Survey Ireland and GeoDirectory.

The dataset includes spatially matched data from both internal and external sources. It is currently being assessed to gauge its level of quality and its suitability for further analytics processes.

ICHEC said these types of data approaches have been adopted for fire services in countries such as the US and Canada but are more novel in Ireland. For example, New York City firefighters have used analytics to anticipate where fires may start.

DFB chief fire officer Dennis Keeley said the organisation is committed to improving community safety by developing an Organisational Intelligence Hub. This will capture relevant data and inform an area risk categorisation for the city and county that can be shared throughout the DFB .

“Innovative collaborations such as this initiative with ICHEC will serve to strengthen DFB’s internal capabilities to manage and interrogate the vast amount of data about the built environment which now exists, and ultimately to further the public safety mission of Dublin Fire Brigade,” Keeley said.

The project is fully funded as part of the European Competency Centre for Ireland initiative, which is based at ICHEC.

This initiative is co-funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the European Commission, and looks to provide agencies with access supercomputing capabilities in Europe that are currently unavailable in Ireland.

ICHEC business development manager Peter Woods said the organisation has a track record of using high-performance computing to assist public sector bodies. For example, researchers are working with the ICHEC to develop a national health information system that could improve healthcare and research in Ireland.

“In this case, our objective is to identify and assess linkages across the multiple datasets available, and to explore the potential for application of big data and predictive analytics to derive insight about this data,” Woods said. “This project demonstrates the value of advanced computer and supercomputing expertise for managing large-scale data and informing policy.”

DFB is the largest fire brigade in Ireland, with 12 full-time stations and two part-time stations in strategic locations across Dublin, covering a population of more than 1.35m.

Dublin Fire Brigade truck. Image: William Murphy via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic