H2O.ai Looks to Douse Wildfires With New AI Challenge
Wildfires rampage across millions of acres of U.S. land every year, threatening countless homes and lives and costing billions of dollars in damage. Many firms, institutions, and researchers have worked to bring computational resources meaningfully into the fight against wildfires, and now, H2O.ai is announcing its new H2O.ai Wildfire & Bushfire Challenge (aka the H2O.ai Fights Fire Challenge) to help fight wildfires with the power of AI applications.
“Wildfires present unique and severe forecasting challenges,” the company wrote when announcing the challenge. “Compared to storms, such as hurricanes, wildfires are ambiguous and hard to predict, especially when you start looking at large, intense wildfires. Those fires combine complex weather, different landscapes, fuel sources such as housing materials or dry forests, and more.”
This, H2O.ai reasons, makes wildfires ideal candidates for AI intervention, and targets its challenge at encouraging developers to make apps that enable that intervention for first responders, local leaders, businesses, and the general public. “We expect the participants and teams to build for one of these audiences,” the company wrote, “but we want to make sure you have the creative freedom to decide which one to design for, as that will lead to a greater breadth of new applications being built.”
Entrants must satisfy at least one of three application areas: predicting the behavior of wildfires, predicting where wildfires will start, and/or reducing the loss of life and property from wildfires. These solutions are expected to apply to numerous organizations – not just one – and H2O.ai will judge the submissions based on clarity, accuracy, creativity, explainability, and usability.
The challenge started yesterday, November 4th, but submissions don’t start for a few days yet (November 8th). From there, participants must make their first submission by December 15th and a month later, on January 15th, must make their final submission. H2O.ai will award the top ten submissions from the first submission ($1,500 each) and, after a month of the entrants learning from one another, will award the top five final submissions $3,000 each. (Everyone gets swag bags, though.)
Teams (which can consist of up to five participants, all of whom must register individually) can register and get access to an AI starter kit (with documents, a training notebook and full application code) on H2O.ai’s website here.
For the rest of us, H2O.ai says that it will “continue to share how the submissions are being used to prevent and contain wildfires.”