Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2023

Most fire services rely on human spotters to identify and report new blazes, but Descartes Lab, a Santa Fe-based startup, aims to revolutionize the wildfire reporting process using cloud-based AI to identify fire outbreaks minutes after they happen. 

The lab uses AI to analyze huge amounts of NOAA thermal satellite imagery. By modeling what the earth would look like without fire and comparing it to the data they receive, they are able to pinpoint hot spots incredibly quickly. The lab can take an image from space, analyze it, and produce a fire alert in about nine minutes. When we compare this to traditional firefighting timelines, this has the potential to be lifesaving. 

Looking at the Kincade fire, for example, a 77,000 acre fire that broke out in Sonoma, California in 2019, Descartes Lab identified the fire just ten minutes after it started, but it took Cal Fire 30 minutes to receive an alert through their systems and several hours to report the blaze publicly. 

Using AI to scan for “heat anomalies,” the lab has successfully reported the exact location of nearly 5000 fires. The company is currently testing its wildfire alert system in conjunction with New Mexico’s forestry service but hopes to expand their reach to other states in the near future. 

The potential to identify wildfires minutes after they start would be incredibly beneficial for protecting communities. When it comes to climate change-driven “megafires” like the campfire in northern California which burned at a rate of 80 football fields per minute, even 10 minutes can mean the difference between lives saved or lost. 

Moving forward, the lab plans to integrate its innovative fire-spotting system with firefighting authorities across the US to communicate these vital alerts in real-time. But the company isn’t stopping there. They are also using their AI technology to find methane leaks in oil fields and scan crops for potential food shortages in Africa. This is a tangible solution for using fast-improving AI technology to protect communities and vital ecosystems by rooting out threats as soon as possible.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Irish town’s Smartphone ban offers blueprint for digital balance and ki...

The daily quandary of when to introduce smartphones to tweens resonates with parents worldwide. Greystones, County Wicklow, in Ireland, however, didn't just grapple with ...

Read More

The European Union’s satellite initiative targets climate-driven threat...

The European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) formed a collaboration to address climate-related risks and protect forests through the use of satellite ...

Read More

7 proven health benefits of ginger

For centuries, scientists have written extensively about ginger and its healing properties. This odd-looking root has been found to do everything from promoting healthy ...

Read More

Passive cooling techniques reduce AC strain by up to 80 percent

In the summer months, many of us are of two minds: we’re dying to keep it cool, but we’re also dying not to spend ...

Read More