Simon Dunstall


In this presentation we will explore three key concepts for data analysis and decision support at landscape scales in agriculture, forestry and related areas. The first of these relates to the mixing of data-driven approaches, mathematical modelling, and bio-physical scientific understanding, as a way to make practical and truly impactful progress in complex and contentious situations. We will illustrate this mainly through examples of prescriptive analytics and quantitative risk management pertaining to wildfires, and well as in real options valuation as applied to routing roads through ecologically sensitive areas. The second concept is the holistic “end to end” design of agricultural and environmental analytics systems, from remote sensing and field sensors through to decision support tools. We provide some key examples including in aquaculture and in broadacre crop forecasting. The third concept centres on the notion of “the model as a sensor”, that is, where scientifically-validated models are used as part of a layered approach to sensing and prediction that spans from aerial photogrammetry and satellite-based remote sensing, through to expensive high-accuracy sensor systems, models, then densely-deployed inexpensive sensing based on the Internet of Things. Together, these concepts help give us the means of tackling important challenges by way of a fusion of cyberphysical systems, big data, mathematics and the natural sciences.


Simon Dunstall leads the Decision Sciences program in CSIRO Data61.

Data61’s mission is to promote a flourishing national ecosystem of researchers, developers and innovators in digital technologies and data-driven businesses. The Decision Sciences program has 100 staff members and a much larger network of collaborators, and has foci including social media analytics, information systems engineering, natural hazard risk modelling, optimisation, and finance and superannuation research.

Simon is a researcher in analytics and optimisation. His recent work includes the development of infrastructure network planning systems and the development of methods for quantifying and managing the bushfire-related risks posed by powerlines in Australia. In addition to his role at CSIRO, Simon is the current national president of the Australian Society for Operations Research (ASOR).


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