AI cameras notch assist in wildfire fight

Western Canada has seen an early start to the wildfire season, but some new high-tech cameras are proving to be a powerful weapon for fighting the flames. 

Driving the news: Newly installed AI-powered cameras designed to detect wildfires across B.C. delivered on their first real test, giving emergency crews a crucial head start in putting out dozens of fires in the province over the past two weeks.  

  • The AI cameras spotted blazes from 24 kilometres away and, in one case, notified firefighting crews about a fire 16 minutes before any other sensors picked it up.

Catch-up: The new cameras are part of a larger pilot project launched last fall by Rogers, the University of British Columbia and the province’s wildfire service to improve wildfire prevention in Western Canada. 

  • The pilot has also deployed ground sensors connected to SpaceX satellites that track soil conditions and help predict where and when wildfires might spring up. 

Why it matters: Firefighters have been stretched thin over the past few years and need every tool they can get to battle increasingly frequent and intense wildfires.

  • The co-founder of the AI camera maker, Pano, says that the system will only get better as the network of cameras and sensors expands across the country and collects more data. 

What’s next: Rogers will set up cameras in three more regions of B.C. over the next few weeks, but the telecom says its long-term plan is to deploy them throughout the country.—LA