The threat of wildfires is rising. So are new artificial intelligence solutions to fight them
Firefighters and startups are using AI-enabled cameras to scan the horizon for signs of smoke. A German company is building a constellation of satellites to detect fires from space. And Microsoft is using AI models to predict where the next blaze could be sparked.
California's main firefighting agency this summer started testing an AI system that looks for smoke from more than 1,000 mountaintop camera feeds and is now expanding it statewide.
The system is designed to find "abnormalities" and alert emergency command centers, where staffers will confirm whether it's indeed smoke or something else in the air.
"The beauty of this is that it immediately pops up on the screen and those dispatchers or call takers are able to interrogate that screen" and determine whether to send a crew, said Phillip SeLegue, staff chief of intelligence for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
It's already helped. A battalion chief got a smoke alert in the middle of the night, confirmed it on his cellphone and called a command center in San Diego to scramble first responders to the remote area.
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