C&E panelists discuss the importance of data to assess community risk
A well-rounded panel of data experts explained the value of Predictive Community Risk Reduction at C&E last week. Moderator Matt Hinds-Aldrich, Ph.D. with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department guided panelists Bill Schneider of Experian Marketing Services, Marc DeCosta of Enigma.io, Bistra Dilkina, Ph.D. of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and NFPA's Nathaniel Lin, Ph.D. through a timely discussion of how the fire services, private business, academia and non-profits are using data science to reduce fires.
Schneider of Experian talked about the Intelligent Door Knocking App which his company launched last year so that fire departments could identify where to focus fire safety prevention efforts. Looking at two years' worth of data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) in three major cities, Experian was able to create a statistical model comparing the traits of people that experienced a home fire with those of the general population. Thanks to this data, they were able to map out at-risk residences and help local fire departments target outreach.
Similarly, Enigma began working with the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) in 2014 after a fire that killed five, including three children. The home had no smoke alarms. In response to this tragedy, Enigma established Smoke Signals and began working with NOFD to determine which areas are most likely to not have smoke alarms. Firefighters were able to canvas those neighborhoods and set up smoke alarms where they were needed. Enigma has extended the Smoke Signals program to 30 large metro areas that also have unfavorable fire safety statistics.
Bistra Dilkina from Georgia Tech explained how their Data Science for Social Good partnership with Atlanta Fire led to the establishment of Firebird. Firebird allows fire departments to identify properties that need inspection, display at-risk homes on a map, and use this data for optimal outreach, planning and fulfillment.
Nathaniel Lin also introduced NFPA's Data Analytics Sandbox to the audience. Lin spent the week talking to conference attendees in the Discovery District, conducting informal presentations, and advocating to partners about the importance of capturing, sharing, analyzing and utilizing data. NFPA established the Sandbox as a tool to help jurisdictions use local inspection information and other relevant data to develop more effective inspection, community engagement and emergency response practices.
The panelists emphasized that there are great resources out there interested in collaborating on data projects for a variety of reasons: the greater good, school credit, real-world experience, altruistic purposes, career benefits, product development and more. They encouraged audience members to harness the power of data by partnering with municipalities, enforcers, business owners, students, and organizations who share an interest in making communities safer from fire, electrical and other hazards.