The control of forest fires has developed into a complex science costing millions of dollars internationally. In the U.S. more than 10 million acres of forest burn annually while, in Canada, over 8,000 fires last year claimed more than 1.5 million hectares. Experts around the world are continuing to research new and innovative ways of battling forest fires.
At Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, Systems and Computer Engineering Professor Gabriel Wainer has created a software toolkit that can be used to define very complex physical systems. One of the applications is intended to predict the spread of forest fires. Dr. Wainer points out that his simulation research can also be used for other purposes such as predicting traffic flow. "We could use the toolkit to reprogram traffic lights that would move the traffic differently and prevent traffic jams." Another use is the examination of wireless communication patterns e.g. predicting ad hoc communication networks. "We can look at coverage and the shortest pathways to get from point A to point B."
"What weve done with the fire spread models is to build on other researchers work and design a computer simulation model considering various factors such as wind speed and direction, terrain, slope, and forestfighter participation, in order to study how these factors will affect the spread of a forest fire. You could use this toolkit to predict whether a town is endangered or where to place a forest fire team in order to combat a fire most effectively."
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