NSW DAC cuts London fire risk


James Riley
Editorial Director

The NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC) has been able to identify in just a few weeks the 1000 or so at-risk high-rise buildings from a pool of 150,000 buildings audited in New South Wales that may contain potentially dangerous aluminium cladding.

Typically, this process would have taken many months of toil if authorities relied on a manual process and a paper-based audit.

A team of experts in demography, mathematics, data science and spatial analytics used digital capabilities including fuzzy logic searches to sift through data sets from over 178,000 records of development approvals, geospatial surveys, and government-owned and managed residential properties from 1985 to present, including buildings under construction, for keywords that indicated the presence of aluminium cladding.

High rise: The NSW Digital Analytics Centre has narrowed the search for building fire risks

The records were gathered using multiple sources of data from the state and federal government, as well from industry data sets.

Following this process, a mix of automated image analysis, visual site inspections by staff, and manual checking of development approvals on council websites were used to validate the data. The NSW Government’s Spatial Services team was then tasked to geocode the identified properties.

The results from the audit will be used to ensure the identified buildings will undergo priority fire safety assessments. If it sounds straight forward it is not. Site visits to tens of thousands of properties could have taken a year or more.

The initiative by the DAC findings are part of the First Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce, which was formed in June by the NSW Government in response to the Grenfell fire in London.

The Taskforce is responsible for ensuring fire safety requirements for buildings including dealing with fire safety and external wall cladding are addressed.

In June 2017, the NSW Government announced a 10-point fire strategy plan, which included the formation of the Taskforce.

NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean said the plan will protect customers from building products that are inherently dangerous.

“NSW is leading the nation when it comes to fire safety and putting consumers first,” he said.

“We have introduced the most comprehensive package of fire safety reforms in the country to ensure NSW families will be safer in their homes.”

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