Image credit : BBC
In California, artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to fight wildfires.
Captain Chris Africa works at the Cal Fire Emergency Command Center in Grass Valley where cameras that can detect smoke without the use of human eyes are now using artificial intelligence to help locate wildfires.
According to Africa, “These cameras are all automatically generated and have all moved based on AI indicators.”
On dispatch displays, the area where the wildfire cameras pick up smoke now has a red box around it. The AI wildfire alerts are referred to as “signature” in Africa.
“So right now, if we clicked Raw AI, that would show any cameras that are currently picking up signatures,” Africa said. “It’s picking up something that the cameras think is either smoke or something that is an anomaly to the camera system.”
Using cutting-edge technology that incorporates geography and wind speeds, computers are also contributing to the generation of instantaneous projections on the direction of wildfires.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief David Krussow utilizes computer models that he can view on his smartphone while working out of the Grass Valley Air Attack Base.
“To know that this is exactly where the fire is right now and this is the direction that it’s going is extremely valuable information,” he said. “It truly a game changer.”
In areas where sending fire firefighters would be too risky, Cal Fire utilized drones last year for the first time to drop pellets used to start backfires.
“In your career, did you ever see this day coming?” CBS13’s Steve Large asked Captain Africa about the AI.
“No, absolutely not,” Africa said. “This is something that’s new. The technology is out there and we are jumping on board and using it. It’s fascinating.”