Wildfire X-Lab

Wildfire Innovation Challenge

The Wildfire Challenge will harness the technical expertise and creativity talent within the UC Berkeley ecosystem, we will implement and deploy an “open innovation” challenge within the Resource Sustainability Innovation X-Lab led by Dr. Thomas Azwell. The Wildfire X-Lab Challenge will operate within the CITRIS Foundry – the innovation hub of the CITRIS and the Banatao Institute (https://citris-uc.org) where faculty researchers, industry experts, and students collaborate to push the boundaries of information technologies from ideation to prototyping to innovation.


The challenge will allow student innovators and researchers – from various backgrounds and disciplines – to collaborate, explore, and develop new technical solutions for wildfire prevention, early detection, notification, evacuation, and mitigation. For example, remote sensing technologies, such as satellites, fixed remote cameras, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), when paired with visual artificial intelligence (AI) tools, can provide early disaster information services beyond what is currently available.  Early detection can be essential to reducing the spread and frequency of wildfires.


During the course of the challenge, teams will be formed within the innovation X-Lab under the guidance of Dr. Azwell, and will apply engineering knowledge, data science, social science, design, and emerging technologies to explore and prototype new solutions to different aspects of the wildfire challenge. Teams that produce promising solutions can then proceed to be incubated within the CITRIS Foundry. Here they’ll have the support of faculty, the CITRIS network, as well as the opportunity to present their solution to CalFire, other fire agencies, and early stage investors.




Head of Resource Sustainability Innovation XLab, CITRIS Foundry

Thomas Azwell is an experienced scientist with a demonstrated history of working in higher education. He is skilled in corporate sustainability, remediation, agriculture, and oceanography. Thomas is a strong research professional with a Masters in Science Education and a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley.