Creation a Geo Big Data Outreach and Training Collaboratory for Wildfire Community

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Ilkay Altintas1, Jeff Sale1, Jessica Block1, Charles Cowart1 and Daniel Crawl2, (1)University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States, (2)San Diego Supercomputer Center, La Jolla, CA, United States
A major challenge for the geoscience community is the training and education of current and next generation big data geoscientists. In wildfire research, there are an increasing number of tools, middleware and techniques to use for data science related to wildfires. The necessary computing infrastructures are often within reach and most of the software tools for big data are freely available. But what has been lacking is a transparent platform and training program to produce data science experts who can use these integrated tools effectively. Scientists well versed to take advantage of big data technologies in geoscience applications is of critical importance to the future of research and knowledge advancement. To address this critical need, we are developing learning modules to teach process-based thinking to capture the value of end-to-end systems of reusable blocks of knowledge and integrate the tools and technologies used in big data analysis in an intuitive manner. WIFIRE is an end-to-end cyberinfrastructure for dynamic data-driven simulation, prediction and visualization of wildfire behavior.

To this end, we are openly extending an environment we have built for “big data training” ( to similar MOOC-based approaches to the wildfire community. We are building an environment that includes training modules for distributed platforms and systems, Big Data concepts, and scalable workflow tools, along with other basics of data science including data management, reproducibility and sharing of results. We also plan to provide teaching modules with analytical and dynamic data-driven wildfire behavior modeling case studies which address the needs not only of standards-based K-12 science education but also the needs of a well-educated and informed citizenry.

Another part our outreach mission is to educate our community on all aspects of wildfire research. One of the most successful ways of accomplishing this is through high school and undergraduate student internships. Students have worked closely with WIFIRE researchers on various projects including the development of statistical models of wildfire ignition probabilities for southern California, and the development of a smartphone app for crowd-sourced wildfire reporting through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.