Understanding Fire Ladders in the Wilds of Detroit – Another Inside Look at a Paper Submission

Editor’s note: The deadline for the EsriUC 2016 Call for Papers has been extended until November 3, 2015. 

Only two more days until the Esri UC 2016 paper abstract submissions close.

Part of the magic of the UC is meeting others who use GIS in their day-to-day business. So many times, people have light bulb moments just by sharing their stories, even with others who work in different industries. It is truly inspiring, and that is the spirit of the paper sessions.

We hope you consider sharing your story. To help get you motivated, here is another story about a hopeful paper presenter.

Carrie Beth Lasley is a research associate at the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan as well as an instructor of Geography and Urban Planning.

Carrie Beth Lasley is a research associate at the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she focuses on urban health and safety risks. She is also an instructor of Geography and Urban Planning at Wayne State.

Tell us about the project you would like to present at Esri UC.

For this project, I am integrating both roles, as a research associate and an instructor, for the Urban Wildfire in Detroit project. A field team from the Center is examining the creation of fire ladders (these happen when a wildfire enters an area with continuous brush or small trees allowing it to jump quickly from a ground fire to a crown fire, which burns through the top layer of foliage on a tree. These are the most intense types of fire and can be difficult to contain). The doctoral students in my Intro to GIS class examined the fire infrastructure and structural conditions. The doctoral students and I will be conducting the analysis.

Tell us about the paper you would like to present.

We love this project at the Center because it sounds like I am pulling your leg at first. We are examining the risk of urban wildfires occurring in Detroit. We generally think of wildfire risk occurring on urban fringes where the built environment is encroaching on nature. In Detroit, the reverse is occurring. Unmaintained wild lands are filling the areas vacated by urban residents. As the wild encroaches, it interacts with electrical infrastructure, vacant properties and dumping sites among others. Alleys often prove to be particularly dangerous to residents. In 2010, a dry and windy day led to 85 fires in the city, exceeding the capacity of a resource-deprived fire department. We have chosen a target area to examine the wildfire risk, and have designed a GIS project around it.

What is your educational background?

I have an undergraduate GIS certificate from City University of New York – Lehman College, a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Louisville, and a doctorate in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. I also have a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

How did you get involved in GIS?

I was working as a sports editor, and I was concerned about the long-term stability of my job; lucky for me, a few years before major layoffs in the field. I went back to finish a geography degree I had started while in journalism school. I had heard about GIS at the University of Missouri and was excited to mix my interests in geography and design.

Do you have an interesting project you’d like to share with the GIS community, similar to Carrie Beth? Don’t wait to submit your abstract – the deadline is October 30.

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