In this special door-busting Black Friday edition we offer facts at reduced prices, consider how wolf packs and GIS might help emergency planning, forecast the winter and spring weather sort of, and make the case for keeping the BC Bioenergy Network going…


Warning: Being it is Black Friday we are offereing a door-buster special on facts reducing them by 30% increasing the chances of a frantic, frenzy of fact shopping.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot LIke, Well, Winter – But What Kind of Winter?

With the current El Niño, perhaps one of the strongest ever affecting weather across the Americas, B.C.’s pending winter and spring may resemble last year’s. This fall is running true to form with the usual post-Halloween cold fronts in place. In a typical El Niño pattern, following the fall cold-hardening events, warmer weather will follow as the new year approaches. That trend will lead to a possible early onset for spring; one that lingers cool, possibly into June. Summer precipitation does not correlate strongly to El Niño, meaning anything from floods to drought may occur across the province in July and August. Historically, notwithstanding the effects of climate change, it is very unusual to see consecutive drought years repeat themselves over the same parts of the province. Over the last years the silviculture sector experienced two weather shocks so to speak. The first was the loss of millions of nursery seedlings to sudden cold in late fall 2014—a weather event that is not outside of the normal range of temperature variability according to forecasters (fortunately, there have been no similar losses reported this year). The second was the early onset of freshet and the advancing of the planting season by weeks in some areas. This led to logistical, worker health, and seedling survival challenges. The summer weather kept fire suppression contractors busy in the south. At least some conditions are in place to see a repeat pattern next year.


What Can Wolves Tell Us About Improving Emergency Response Planning?

Well, not much actually. But isn’t that a great headline? But there is a story to go with it: albeit maybe a stretch. As our religiously regular readers will know, in the last RoundUpDate we described ongoing work exploring the use of telematics, satellite navigation and GIS to aid in the allocation of emergency response assets to deal with serious injuries on remote work sites. In investigating this expanding technical domain we were astounded to see just what outcomes can be produced in other applications through analytics and GIS. The Vancouver Police Department, after a year with little success, reportedly caught serial pedophile sex offender Ibata Hexamer in six weeks, once they applied GIS-based analytics. By mapping his attacks they initially narrowed his home location down to a part of the city. But the clincher came when they applied an algorithm mimicking how wolf packs hunt. It turns out wolf and human predators operate in the same way. With the search area now down to a few city blocks Hexamer became a suspect under surveillance. After he discarded a coffee cop—retrieved by police—they had a DNA conviction. We can’t necessarily expect a breakthrough like this in reducing work place injuries. But it strongly suggests that an intelligence led approach using incident data, GIS and analytics offers a chance to yield possible patterns, predictors and potential emergency response improvements that we are currently unaware of. Hexamer remains locked up as a dangerous offender.


BC Bioenergy Network Seeing Recapitalization

The BC Bioenergy Network received an encouraging honourable mention from the BC Parliament’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government services in its Report on the Budget 2016 Consultations released earlier this month. The recognition comes at a time when the Network is seeking recapitalization to continue its work since 2008 investing in and encouraging innovative bioenergy capital projects and capacity building in the province. Although the Committee did not direct any funds towards the Network, getting cited in the report is being taken as a positive sign from government. The WSCA was also mentioned in the document as a supporter of the Network. It sees fostering a robust provincial bioenergy sector as a means to finding new value in the province’s waste wood and degraded Interior forests. This could lead to increased restoration efforts and silviculture jobs. At the least the BC Bioenergy Network’s timing looks good. Canada’s new federal government has committed to environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation as major goals. And new attention is being paid to B.C.’s own environmental efforts. The logic of recapitalizing the BC Bioenergy Network might seem self-evident. But there are politics and numerous moving policy parts involved. The Network’s fate remains uncertain.