UC San Diego WIFIRE Project Wins Three HPCwire Awards

San Diego and New Orleans, Nov. 18, 2014 — The WIFIRE project led by the University of California, San Diego has triumphed with three top 2014 HPCwire Awards. All the awards were announced on Nov. 17 at Supercomputing ’14 in New Orleans.

With a multi-year $2.65 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the WIFIRE project is a partnership led by San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) researcher Ilkay Altintas.  All three awards cited WIFIRE “for building a cyberinfrastructure to better monitor, predict and mitigate future wildfires.”

Calit2's Larry Smarr (far left) and SDSC's Ilkay Altintas (center) picked up UC San Diego's HPCwire awards for the WIFIRE project from HPCwire publisher Tom Tabor.

“These awards are truly wonderful news for the entire WIFIRE team,” said Altintas, director of SDSC’s Workflows for Data Science Center of Excellence. “We all are very grateful to HPCwire’s editors and readers for recognizing this project and the impact that it can have not only here in California but anywhere where wildfires can be a threat to the local populace and environment.”

In the category of Best Application of Big Data in High Performance Computing (HPC), the San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego and the University of Maryland tied for the #1 spot for Readers’ Choice with a PayPal deployment to improve customer shopping experiences.  In the separate category of Editors’ Choice for the best application of big data in HPC, the same UCSD/University of Maryland project, WIFIRE, took the top choice (selected by a panel of HPCwire editors).

In the broader category of Best Data-Intensive System (End-User Focused), the WIFIRE project also came in #1 as the Editors’ Choice.  (The Readers’ Choice in this category went to NASA’s Earth Exchange platform, which supports dozens of data-intensive projects in Earth sciences.)

In recent years, the number and scale of wildfires in the U.S. has risen, threatening cities and forests, and at times forcing large-scale evacuations.

The NSF grant allowed WIFIRE participants to begin cataloguing and integrating large, data-intensive sets related to dynamic wildfire models from a variety of resources, including sensors, satellites, and scientific models, and creating visual programming interfaces for using that data in scalable wildfire models.

In addition to principal investigator Ilkay Altintas, co-principal investigators on the WIFIRE project include: UCSD computer science professor Larry Smarr, who also directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2); Hans-Werner Braun, director of the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN); and UCSD mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Raymond de Callafon. The University of Maryland’s Department of Fire Protection Engineering is providing its expertise in wildfire modeling and state estimation.

According to Calit2’s Smarr, WIFIRE is a logical progression in the fight against wildfires. “We are all based in southern California and wildfires represent one of the most intractable environmental threats we face on a regular basis,” he said. “The technology we deploy for WIFIRE will make a substantial difference in our ability to detect, track, and respond to wildfires going forward.”  

The annual HPCwire awards were unveiled just before the opening reception of SC’14 in New Orleans. HPCwire is a leading publication for news and information for the high-performance computing industry. According to Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications, which publishes HPCwire, the awards are given to “organizations that are making the biggest impacts in advancing technology and humanity itself through high performance computing.”

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey, (858) 822-5825, dramsey@ucsd.edu
Jan Zverina, jzverina@sdsc.edu

Related Links

HPCwire Awards 2014