Can One of California’s Biggest Industries Help Temper Devastating Fires?

Tech leaders come to the table with promising ideas.

As California catches its breath from a destructive fire season last year, state fire officials and wildlife researchers are looking to technology to help stem future catastrophes. Some of those means include more reliance on artificial intelligence in forecasting and satellites to detect and track wildfires in action. Tech companies, large and small, gathered with state leaders and fire professionals in a first-of-its kind summit to present products, discuss solutions and form partnerships in advance of the next fire season.

According to Mercury News, “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.

“He reminded the summit about some of the important effects of wildfires: changes in forests, degradation of water quality, impact on fish populations, possible reduction in visits to national parks, poor air quality.

“’The magnitude, scale and scope of wildfires in the West is unreplicated,’ said Jeff Johnson, chief executive of the Western Fire Chiefs Association. ‘The solutions will come from the West,’ he added, and identified California as the leader of that push.”

Read more about some of the technologies presented and ideas discussed by panelists here.

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