California County Uses AI Against Fires

19 March 2021

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sonoma County officials say they will add artificial intelligence technology to help fight wildfires with a 24-7 monitor to track fire outbreaks.

The technology will be added to the county’s network of wildfire detection cameras that monitor California’s backcountry to spot the first outbreak of flames. Many of the cameras are affixed to existing radio communication towers.

“This early detection technology will provide emergency managers and first responders with round-the-clock monitoring, a sophisticated addition we are excited to add to our alert and warning toolkit,” Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins said.

Sonoma County, in the heart of Northern California’s wine country, has been hit hard by devastating wildfires in recent years. In 2017, a blaze caused thousands of people to flee, destroyed more than 5,000 homes, wiped out whole residential blocks in the city of Santa Rosa and killed 24 people.

The system will send a text or email to emergency crews when a possible fire is spotted, and the responding agency would then confirm whether a fire has started.

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