Journal Special Issue on Advances in Geospatial Emergency Management


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Call for Papers: Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems (CEUS) (Elsevier)

Special issue on: “Advances in geospatial emergency management”

Special issue editors: Matt Duckham, Mark W. Horner, Allison Kealy, Eren Erman Ozguven

A more populous and interconnected world with a warming climate is anticipated to lead to increasing incidence and severity of natural and anthropogenic disasters. Making smart use of available information about space and time is integral to improving success across the spectrum of emergency management activities, whether dealing with issues of preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation, rescue, or reconstruction.

In this special issue we invite original research articles (8,000 words or less) addressing the state-of-the-art in using spatial information and geographic information systems (GIS) to emergency management issues, broadly defined (e.g. disaster preparedness, assessing infrastructure vulnerability, evacuation and sheltering, etc.). Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the support of emergency management, modeling, and planning activities related to:

> Crowd sourced and user-generated spatial data;
> Visualization of complex, dynamic, multi-scale, or uncertain emergency information;
> Spatiotemporal situational awareness for emergency responders or controllers;
> Position and localization systems, algorithm and techniques for emergency applications including alternatives to GNSS, integrated/hybrid solutions and indoor systems;
> Real-time emergency spatial decision support systems, such as for evacuation planning or supply/commodity transportation;
> Applications of spatial information and GIS to specific emergency scenarios, such as wildfires, flooding, multimodal transport assessments, and evacuations;
> Use of GIS-based solutions to serve the needs of vulnerable populations in emergency operations
> Application and innovative use of novel spatial sensing technologies for emergency applications, such as satellite imagery, geosensor networks, UAVs, terrestrial and airborne laser scanning and other spatial imaging systems; and
> Computational approaches in emergency management such as spatial optimization modeling, agent-based modeling, and network analysis.

We also encourage original and comprehensive literature reviews on topics relevant to the issue theme.

All submissions must be original, never published in similar or abridged form in English, or any other language. The deadline for submissions is August 25th 2015. Submissions must conform to CEUS submission guidelines. Submissions will be rigorously reviewed by at least three international expert reviewers. The Elsevier journal management system is open to accept submissions. Instructions for authors are available at When submitting, please use “SI: AGEM” when selecting the “Article Type” for your submission. CEUS has an impact factor of 1.520.

For more information feel free to contact one of the special issue editors: Matt Duckham (, Mark W. Horner (, Allison Kealy (, Eren Erman Ozguven (

ANZ Disaster Management Conference

ANZDM conference

ANZDM conference

Matt, Allison, and Kevin have had an abstract accepted for oral presentation at the Australian and New Zealand Disaster Management Conference (ANZDMC). The abstract is in connection with the RISERnet project, discussion the development and uses of a wireless sensor network for environmental monitoring of sensitive natural environments, like the forest. The paper title is:

    Duckham, M., Kealy, A., Tolhurst, K. (2014) RISERnet: Situational awareness using environmental sensor networks. In: Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference.

Azadeh Mousavi joins RISER

Azadeh Mousavi

Azadeh Mousavi

Azadeh Mousavi joins RISER from the beginning of March as an IBM Research Intern. Azadeh brings expertise in PGMs (probabilistic graphical models) for mining sensor data. She will work specifically in connection with the MoistuRISER project, using the data from RISERnet to estimate fuel moisture content.

Mini-workshop at Creswick

Mcreswickatt, Allison, and Peter joined Kevin in Creswick on 6th February to work on several related tasks. In particular, the mini-workshop focused on fuel moisture computations, laying the groundwork for the design of a system to use RISERnet data to compute fine-grained fuel moisture measures.

MERIT visiting scholar award

Francisco EscobarAllison was successful in being awarded funding from MERIT (Melbourne School of Engineering) to support Francisco Escobar to work at the University of Melbourne as a visiting scholar in November 2014. Francisco is a world expert in cartography and spatial information systems, and plans to collaborate with the RISER team on the ongoing development of innovative user interfaces for emergency information systems.

WIFIRE Advisory Board

Matt has joined the WIFIRE Advisory Board, which provides strategic advice to the WIFIRE project based at UCSD in San Diego. WIFIRE is a sister-project to RISER investigating wildfire predictions and simulations, and led by UCSD researcher Ilkay Altintas. WIFIRE was awarded $2.65M USD funding from the NSF and is building strong links to the RISER project, on which UCSD is a partner organization.

RISER PMC meeting

The first RISER Project Management Committee meeting was held on 20 December 2013 at the Office of the Fire Services Commissioner in the Melbourne CBD. The RISER PMC provide strategic guidance to the RISER project, reviewing progress and providing strategic advice on the research direction. At the meeting were PMC members Jessica Block, Matt Duckham, Juerg von Kaenel, Kim Lowell, and John Schauble. In addition to providing the opportunity to review early progress in the project, the PMC discussed a RISER white paper setting out the plans for progress in the three key RISER research areas: new data streams, novel methods for data integration, and innovative interfaces for user interaction.

MODSIM papers

MODSIM2013_logoThe RISER team was involved in four presentations at MODSIM, the 20th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. MODSIM was held this year in Adelaide, December 1-6. PhD student Lisa Cheong presented her work on evaluating interfaces for decision making under uncertainty in a bushfire context. Her abstract was entitled:

    Cheong, L.M., Bleisch, S., Duckham, M., Kealy, A., Tolhurst, K. and Wilkening, T. (2013) A methodology for evaluating the impact of visualization on decision-making under uncertainty for PHOENIX Rapidfire. Proc. MODSIM 2013, p50.

Kevin Tolhurst was also an author on three papers connected with advances in fire-spread modeling.

Geosensor Networks: Dagstuhl Seminar

Matt and Allison attended a Dagstuhl Seminar on Geosensor Networks. The Schloss Dagstuhl Leibniz Center for Informatics in Germany is one of the leading centers for informatics in the world, with a long waiting list to host seminars. Matt was one of the organizers of the seminar, entitled: Geosensor Networks: Bridging Algorithms and Applications. The week-long seminar brought together researchers from around the world with expertise in the theory, design, and deployment of geosensor networks for an intensive collaboration. The aim of the seminar was to foster better knowledge transfer from theoretical approaches to geosensor networks through to practical applications, such as that being attempted in the RISER project.


Usability testing

Human subject testsOur work on designing improved interfaces for interacting with uncertain mapped information about hazardous areas continues. Another round of human subject tests ran this week, testing the performance of human subjects when presented with different maps and textual information about the level of certainly of fire at a location. The stimuli for the experiments is based on output from the Phoenix RapidFire model.

RISERnet deployment

Sensor node in Olinda

Sensor node in Olinda

RISERnet continues it’s full field deployment. Matt and Peter joined Simon and James in Olinda to advise on aspects of the deployment. A problem with the connection at the gateway (Meshlium) unfortunately led to one being returned to the lab for further configuration. Unfortunately, this will delay the full deployment start by a week or two.

Project Management Committee

The RISER Project Management Committee, responsible for general oversight of the project and providing guidance on the content, conduct, and scope of the project, has been constituted from the project partners along with expertise from outside the project. The current PMC members are: Matt Duckham (Chair), Juerg von Kaenel, Kim Lowell, John Schauble, and Kevin Tolhurst.

AFAC Collaboration Event

On 21 October, Allison and Matt attended an AFAC collaboration event entitled Exploring a ‘Mountain of Data’. The participants included providers and recipients of emergency management information from across the country, and Matt gave a short presentation on the RISER project.

RISER is hiring

We are seeking an outstanding early career academic (post-doc) with a strong grounding in geographic information science and a specialization in geovisualization or geovisual analytics to work on the RISER project. For more information, see the official position advertisement.

RISER at ADMP meeting

ADMP talk slidesMatt Duckham gave a talk introducing RISER and previous NDRGS and MSE Iconic projects to the joint NDMRI/ADMP seminar at the University of Melbourne on 8 October 2013. The slides for the presentation can be viewed via Prezi.

RISER group meeting

Guy Sharon and Carlos Queiroz

Guy Sharon and Carlos Queiroz from IBM

A first RISER group meeting was held at the University of Melbourne on Friday 4th October. The meeting focused specifically on interaction with IBM partners, with Christian Vecchiola, Andrew Rawlinson, Guy Sharon, and Carlos Queiroz all contributing from IBM, with Matt Duckham, Allison Kealy, Bill Moran, and Susanne Bleisch from University of Melbourne.

NSF WIFIRE project

Congratulations to WIFIRE, a major research project on wildfire predictions and simulations led by UCSD researcher Ilkay Altintas, which was awarded $2.65M USD funding from the NSF. The project further strengthens the RISER project’s strong link to UCSD in the area of information systems for emergency management. UCSD and RISER researcher Jessica Block is also collaborator on the WIFIRE project, and the RISER team supported the WIFIRE funding proposal.

RISER has started!

The RISER project officially started on 16th September 2013. Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped and worked with us in achieving this first milestone.

MSE Iconic Project

mse_vertical_positive_loresWork funded under a MSE (Melbourne School of Engineering) Iconic project, 2011-2013, helped in developing new capabilities for improving expert decision-making in the domains of flooding and bushfires, through the smart of new technologies and new data sources. The project involved a large number of collaborators around the University of Melbourne and more broadly, including: Andrew Western, Matt Duckham, Bill Moran, Doreen Thomas, Allison Kealy,  Michael Stewardson,  Dongryeol Ryu,  Peter Farrell,  Stephan Winter, Marcus Brazil,  Charl Ras,  Joseph Leach, Justin Costelloe, Kevin Tolhurst,  Patrick Lane,  Kim Lowell,  Peter Taylor,  Glenn Wightwick,  Larry Smarr,  Jessica Block,  Sarah Harris,  Liam Fogarty,  Craig Lapsley, Chris Pettit,  and Geoff Earl.


NDRGSNDRGS, the National Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme, funded a project “Robust Environmental Sensing for Enhanced Bushfire Risk Modelling and Prediction” 2011-2013, with chief investigators Allison Kealy, Bill Moran, Matt Duckham, Patrick Lane, and Kevin Tolhust. The NDRGS project developed sensors, networking, and data processing schemes to provide relevant, accurate, timely and trustworthy environmental information to improve the reliability of fire prediction models, laying some of the foundations for the RISER project.


NDMRINDMRI, the Natural Disaster Management Research Institute, is an initiative to support collaborative research and connect researchers in the domain of disaster management at the University of Melbourne. In particular, NDMRI supported the RISER project in developing a successful funding proposal, for which we are most grateful.


RISER works closely with ADMP, the Australia Disaster Management Platform, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and IBM Research Australia. ADMP is building an open-standards based multi-hazard disaster management platform for helping communities to make swift, effective decisions, based on comprehensive, accurate, real-time information.

Craig Lapsley

craiglapsley2Craig Lapsely is the first Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner. Craig’s role has overall responsibility for coordination before, during and after major emergencies including management of consequences of an emergency. Craig brings nearly 30 years’ experience in the emergency management sector.

John Schauble

john_schaubleJohn Schauble is Strategic Advisor at Emergency Management Victoria, Victoria and Captain of the Sassafras-Ferny Creek CFA. John is a key partner organization contact and a member of the RISER Project Management Committee, bringing his expertise as a policy maker and end user of emergency information.

Professor Kim Lowell

kim-lowellProfessor Kim Lowell is and Science Director at the CRC SI (Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information). In addition to a long history of research in the area of forestry and spatial information science, Kim brings a wealth of expertise in research management, from the CRC and his previous positions, for example as Director for the Centre for Research in Geomatics (CRG) at Laval University. Kim is a member of the RISER Project Management Committee.

Guy Sharon

Guy SharonGuy Sharon was the Manager of the Model and Information Composition Group at IBM Research Australia. Guy has expertise in the field of active and event-driven technology and was the key IBM contact for the RISER project, as well as a member of the ADMP team.

Dr Peter Zhong


Peter was an IBM Research Intern and a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, supervised by Prof Bill Moran. Peter has been central to helping build and deploy RISERnet, having developed much of the code for the sensor network. Peter is now a post-doc of RISER leading the research of several subprojects, including RISERnetMoistuRISERStream processing, and Firefront tracking.

Dr Azadeh Mousavi

Azadeh MousaviAzadeh Mousavi completed her PhD in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne. She was a PhD student intern at IBM Research Australia. Azadeh’s PhD is on event detection in spatiotemporal sensor data using PGMs (probabilistic graphical models). For the RISER project, Azadeh is working on the MoistuRISER sub-project, using the sensed data to monitor fuel moisture. Before starting her PhD, Azadeh worked in governmental and private organizations in Iran as GIS analyst.