Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently announced that it is testing cameras integrated with artificial intelligence and machine-learning to possibly help wildfire detection capabilities.

The company said it is using the cameras in Yuba County and others to better differentiate wildfire smoke from fog and other false indicators, PG&E said in a news release. These cameras have been added to a growing network of cameras across Northern and Central California.

This recent effort is in collaboration with ALERTWildfire, an association of three universities – the University of Nevada, Reno; University of California San Diego; and the University of Oregon – that provides access to fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders.

PG&E said it currently has 487 high-definition cameras in operation with 12 that include AI test software in Yuba, Butte and Plumas counties. There are currently seven in Yuba County.

In the North Valley region, the company already has installed HD wildfire cameras in Colusa, Glenn and Tehama counties.

“Even with the two significant rainstorms in October and November, we are still in a historic drought and California, along with other western states, continue to experience an increase in wildfire risk and a longer wildfire season. We are using every new tool and technology at our disposal to improve situational awareness and intelligence to help mitigate and prevent wildfires, including this new AI capability,” said Sumeet Singh, PG&E chief risk officer, in the release. “Every bit of data and intelligence that comes to us could potentially save a life.”

The cameras that PG&E installs can be viewed by anyone through the ALERTWildfire Network at www.alertwildfire.org.

The company plans to have about 600 cameras installed by the end of 2022.

“We know the cameras are doing well at spotting wisps of smoke from long distances. We plan to assess our initial implementation, continue to gather the data, and develop a plan for using this leading-edge technology on a more expanded basis,” said Eric Sutphin, supervisor at PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center who’s in charge of the camera installations, in the release.

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