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Track: Risk Analysis

The Emerging Role of Analytics in Wildfire Management, or, “Moneyball for Fire”

Wednesday, April 14, 1-1:40pm EDT

Wildfires present a growing threat to landscapes and communities around the globe. Wildfire managers face a complex decision environment in which they are asked to minimize costs and losses while maximizing public and firefighter safety, often under substantial uncertainty, compressed timeframes, and intense sociopolitical pressure. Enhanced analytics and performance measures reflect one point of leverage for increasing the capacity of fire management organizations to deal with this escalating complexity. In this talk I will review emerging decision support tools along with their application to real-world fire management, with a focus on predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms now widely deployed on National Forest System lands throughout the western USA. In short, I am interested in the question of whether the fire science and management communities can together develop a “Moneyball for fire” paradigm – one where decisions and actions are risk-informed, evidence-based, enriched with analytics, and aligned with long-term objectives.

Matthew Thompson image

Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson

Research Forester at USDA Forest Service

Matthew P Thompson is a Research Forester with the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team at the Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service. In 2016 he was a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. His research interests include: wildland fire management; risk, systems, and decision analysis; data science and analytics; operations research; management science; forest management; and coupled human and natural systems. He has a BS in systems engineering from the University of Virginia, a MS in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of California, Berkeley, a MS in forest management from Oregon State University, a PhD in forest engineering from Oregon State University, and a professional certificate in strategic decision and risk management from Stanford University. He has offered more than 60 presentations at academic conferences including INFORMS, IFORS, and CORS, has been an invited speaker and panelist at several conferences and workshops (INFORMS, American Geophysical Union, International Association of Wildland Fire, International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Banff International Research Station), and was the recipient of the best presentation award in the Forestry Cluster of the Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment Section at the 2009 INFORMS Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.