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Wildfire Spotting Goes High Tech: Can Silicon Valley Save Northern California?


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Final image from the Axis-BonnyDoon wildfire camera in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which stopped transmitting on Aug. 19.

Fire spotters and firefighters in Norther California are becoming more adaptive to changing conditions thanks to high-technology implementations.

Credit: AlertWildfire

High-technology implementations in Northern California are making fire spotters and firefighters more adaptive to changing conditions while improving their safety.

The technology is also democratizing fire-spotting, enabling anyone to go online to view satellite and camera imagery, while interactive maps visualize fire locations.

The AlertWildfire.org system is a network of roughly 550 cameras in California, which capture a still image every second to generate time-lapse videos, and use near-infrared technology for nighttime viewing.

The network lets authorized personnel rotate, pan and zoom, and focus on suspicious smoke plumes; advanced satellite systems also provide finer spatial resolution and data processing.

Pacific Gas & Electric's Scott Strenfel said, "We can use this information to understand where fires are spreading, where they're most active, and to get rapid alerts for wildfires."

From San Francisco Chronicle
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