This weekend the Growing Data Foundation’s (GDF) team – the ‘Water Warriors’ is competing in the Australia and New Zealand GovHack Competition. GovHack is an international competition for people of all abilities who seek to make life better through open data. Across one weekend, thousands come together to form teams, agree on projects, and participate in what has become one of the world’s largest open data competitions. 

Conducted over a 46-hour period, the competition requires participating teams to create concepts, mashups and models with open government data, to examine the challenges facing government and communities in new and innovative ways.

The Australian 2020 Black Summer bushfires were unprecedented in their scale and level of destruction. More than three billion animals were killed, over 450 people lost their lives, approximately 17 million hectares of land was burnt and more than 6,000 homes and buildings were destroyed.

In the aftermath of these fires, one of the major problems that firefighters universally identified was the difficulty experienced accessing water. In drought affected regions, access to dam and mains water was understandably significantly restricted. In other regions, poorly maintained water hydrants made it difficult to access mains water in a safe way, and no real-time data was available to inform local crews as to the location and level of water storage in static water supplies e.g. water tanks, swimming pools and dams.

In the spirit of using open government data to create a tangible solution to this critical issue, the GDF Water Warriors have created a web application – ‘FireWater’ to demonstrate how low-cost, long range radio technologies (LoRaWAN) and open GIS mapping systems can be used to provide real time water source data to on-the-ground fire crews, in particular the location and status of fire hydrants, water tanks and other natural water sources. It will also incorporate a journey planning functionality, to direct fire crews to nearest available water sources. In developing this exciting application, the Water Warriors have indeed created the capacity for firefighters to become true ‘Water Diviners’.

The GDF team has entered ‘FireWater’ into one South Australia, Australian and International category. Winners will be announced over the coming weeks at formal Awards Nights. I will keep you posted on how we go. Fingers crossed that the team can win at least one category. Regardless, the team believes that it will have made a huge contribution to ensuring that by providing firefighters with the technology tools to become ‘Water Diviners’, that come next fire season, knowledge of available water sources is not one of the major challenges they will have to face.

Go GDF Water Warriors!!!!