An artificial intelligence program and camera system developed by UC San Diego to detect wildfires has been named one of the best inventions of 2023 by Time Magazine.
AlertCalifornia detects smoke and other indicators of potential fires through a network of over 1,000 cameras and sensor arrays situated throughout California.
In its first two months of operation, the system identified 77 fires before any 911 calls were made, according to Time, which highlighted AlertCalifornia and 199 other innovations on its best inventions list.
“With the frequency and severity of wildfires in California increasing at an alarming rate over the last decade, remote sensing data and AI have never been more essential to develop effective and time-critical plans for wildfire prevention, protection, mitigation and response,” said Neal Driscoll, AlertCalifornia director.
The program was created in partnership with Cal Fire, with hopes of improving firefighting response times. Local fire departments are alerted by the system through text messages when a potential fire is detected, Time said.
The program was made available to all 21 Cal Fire 911 dispatch centers last month, according to AlertCalifornia.
Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the system’s recognition by Time and said AlertCalifornia representative of the state’s efforts toward curbing wildfire threats.
“California is fighting fires smarter, combining cutting-edge technology with a world-class firefighting force — all to better protect our communities,” Newsom said. “Cal Fire has been spearheading this effort from the very beginning, proactively partnering with UC San Diego and embracing innovation in their constant efforts to make California more resilient to