During extremely dry, hot, and windy weather, being able to differentiate wildfire smoke from fog and other false indicators is invaluable to analysts in PG&E Wildfire Safety Operations Center and fire agencies. That’s why PG&E is testing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning capabilities in the growing network of high-definition cameras across Northern and Central California to see how it can enhance fire-watch and response capabilities.
This year, PG&E, in collaboration with ALERTWildfire, has installed 138 new HD cameras across High Fire-Threat Districts, in accordance with its 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. Of those 138 cameras, 46 of them are included in the new AI testing program in partnership with Alchera and ALERTWildfire. A similar pilot was conducted with Pano through participation in EPRI’s 2021 Incubatenergy Labs Challenge. PG&E began installing HD cameras in 2018, as part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program. As of October 31, 487 cameras are now in operation.
“Even with the two significant rainstorms in October and November, we are still in a historic drought and California, along with other western states, continue to experience an increase in wildfire risk and a longer wildfire season. We are using every new tool and technology at our disposal to improve situational awareness and intelligence to help mitigate and prevent wildfires, including this new AI capability,” said PG&E’s Sumeet Singh, chief risk officer. “Every bit of data and intelligence that comes to us could potentially save a life.”