State fire officials and wildfire researchers have more technology at their disposal than ever. Fresh off a record-breaking year of the largest, deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California history, they joined with tech companies and others at a first-of-its-kind summit Wednesday to try and figure out how to use all that technology to help forecast, detect and prevent wildfires and improve life-saving communications with first responders and the public.
The two-day wildfire technology summit drew about 650 lawmakers, policymakers, scientists, fire officials, tech experts and representatives from utility companies to Sacramento State University on Wednesday to exchange ideas and to hear from climate scientists and academics. What they heard was that preparing for the future also requires understanding the causes of today’s wildfires — which have killed 138 people in the state over the past two years — and learning about the past.
“California is a harbinger of what’s to come,” said Ed Struzik, author of “Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future” and a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queens University in Canada.