Dynamic and robust wildfire risk prediction system: an unsupervised approach

Mahsa Salehi, Laura Irina Rusu, Timothy Lynar, Anna Phan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Ability to predict the risk of damaging events (e.g. wildfires) is crucial in helping emergency services in their decision making processes, to mitigate and reduce the impact of such events. Today, wildfire rating systems have been in operation extensively in many countries around the world to estimate the danger of wildfires. In this paper we propose a data-driven approach to predict wildfire risk using weather data. We show how we address the inherent challenge arising due to the temporal dynamicity of weather data. Weather observations naturally change in time, with finer-scale variation (e.g. stationary day or night) or large variations (non stationary day or night), and this determines a temporal variation of the predicted wildfire danger. We show how our dynamic wildfire danger prediction model addresses the aforementioned challenge using context-based anomaly detection techniques. We call our predictive model a Context-Based Fire Risk (CBFR) model. The advantage of our model is that it maintains multiple historical models for different temporal variations (e.g. day versus night), and uses ensemble learning techniques to predict wildfire risk with high accuracy. In addition, it is completely unsupervised and does not rely on expert knowledge, which makes it flexible and easily applied to any region of interest. Our CBFR model is also scalable and can potentially be parallelised to speed up computation. We have considered multiple wildfire locations in the Blue Mountains, Australia as a case study, and compared the results of our system with the existing well-established Australian wildfire rating system. The experimental results show that our predictive model has a substantially higher accuracy in predicting wildfire risk, which makes it an effective model to supplement the operational Australian wildfire rating system.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKDD' 2016 - Proceedings of the 22nd ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
Subtitle of host publicationAugust 13-17, 2016 San Francisco, CA, USA
EditorsAlex Smola, Charu Aggarwal
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450342322
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventACM International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining 2016 - Hilton San Francisco Union Square, San Francisco, United States of America
Duration: 13 Aug 201617 Aug 2016
Conference number: 22nd


ConferenceACM International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining 2016
Abbreviated titleKDD 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CitySan Francisco
OtherKDD 2016, a premier interdisciplinary conference, brings together researchers and practitioners from data science, data mining, knowledge discovery, large-scale data analytics, and big data.
Internet address


  • Bushfires
  • Context-based anomaly detection
  • Data stream mining
  • Risk prediction
  • Unsupervised learning
  • Wildfires

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