Summer in Australia means many things – long days at the beach, catching up with friends on balmy nights and a wide pursuit of outdoor activities synonymous with the “Australian way of life”. Sadly, summer in Australia can also mean bushfires, devastating events that wipe out bushland, farms, and homes and in some cases, lives.

One of the biggest identified risks of the cause of bushfires in both urban and regional areas are that fires cause by electricity network poles, called ‘pole top fires’.

Pole top fires typically start in poles with a weathered cross-arm, most often when dust and pollutants accumulate around insulators on the pole. Moisture in the atmosphere – such as light rain – can then cause the dust and pollutants to be ignited by electrical current which can cause the cross arm on the pole to catch fire.

Wood is the material most often used in electricity poles, and with over 5 million wooden poles currently installed in Australian networks, pole top fires are a substantial risk for service disruptions and bushfires. But how do we know which poles are most at risk?

Akumen was developed to facilitate data integration and scenario management and has proven to be well suited for the purpose of pole top fire data analytics. The core of the predictive analytics application is a mathematical model that links environmental drivers of pole top fires to the specific properties of the pole. For example, Akumen can catalogue data such as the age of the poles in certain areas; take into account environmental conditions from each area (e.g.: how dry the season has been, the amount of pollutants in the air, the last scheduled maintenance works) plus live data feeds, such as weather events.

Using all of the available data, Akumen can use its vast and detailed predictive analytics capabilities to accurately identify high risk areas, with real time impact.
Akumen founder, Matt Schneider, said “Using Akumen’s predictive analytics capacity to mitigate the risk of pole top fires is a great application of our technology. Being on the front foot of catastrophic events such as bush fires caused by pole top fires, or even the inconvenience of service interruptions caused by pole top fires, is enormously valuable to our community. By identifying areas that need preventative maintenance, or to plan for likely scenarios and ‘what if’ cases for training purposes, we are helping protect lives and assets, all by using data in the best possible way”.
Akumen is an award winning data analytics platform that has removed the technical complexities of data science. For more information on how you can use Akumen’s predictive analytics tools and apps, visit

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