James Minas

James Minas's picture

Supervisors:  Professor John Hearne and Professor John HandmerRMIT University

James was a student from RMIT University. His PhD was on "Use of operations research (OR) for decision support in bushfire management.

Bushfire managers operate in a decision environment that is characterised by: 

  • Complexity
  • Uncertainty
  • Multiple Objectives that may conflict
  • Hierarchical interrelated decisions

Operations Research (OR) can provide tools to assist bushfire managers to assess alternatives and make decisions in this challenging environment.

OR is the use of an analytical approach to aid decision making in complex real-world systems.  OR employs a variety of techniques such as:  mathematical modellingoptimisation, simulation, decision analysis and queuing theory. 

OR is widely used in a number of industries including: transportation, logistics, telecommunications, manufacturing, mining, health care and forestry.

OR has been successfully used to aid wildfire management in North America.  In contrast there is little evidence of OR usage in the Australian bushfire context.

Areas of bushfire management with potential to benefit from OR application, include:

  •  Strategic planning and budgeting
  •  Purchasing of fleet and equipment
  •  Location of facilities
  •  Deployment of resources
  •  Fuel management
  •  Staffing levels and rostering
  •  Fire prevention planning
  •  Dispatch of suppression resources
  •  Information flow management

Research Questions

The research investigated:

  • What is the current state of knowledge in the use of OR for emergency and wildfire management;
  • What are the key decision-making challenges facing bushfire managers that could potentially benefit from OR application;
  • What is the most pressing problem faced by bushfire managers that OR can assist with;
  • What OR techniques are available to tackle this problem; and
  • How can these OR techniques be employed to develop problem-specific decision support tools to assist bushfire managers.

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