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TIME Recognizes CAL FIRE AI & AlertCalifornia as a Best Invention of 2023 

SACRAMENTO – Today, California’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect wildfires was recognized as a Best Invention of 2023 by TIME.

The innovative partnership between CAL FIRE’s Wildfire AI Detector and the University of California, San Diego’s AlertCalifornia utilizes AI to monitor over 1,000 cameras throughout the state to detect wildfires, allowing CAL FIRE to respond faster. Within the past four months alone, AI has already detected 77 wildfires.

Governor Newsom’s first budget in 2019 funded 100 of these cameras, and the program has grown ever since.

What Governor Newsom said: “California is fighting fires smarter, combining cutting-edge technology with a world-class firefighting force – all to better protect our communities. 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 wildfires.”

In case you missed it:

TIME: The Best Inventions of 2023 
Stopping Wildfires
AlertCalifornia and Cal Fire AI Wildfire Detector

Detecting wildfires before they spread is a challenge now plaguing much of the world. University of California San Diego’s public safety program, AlertCalifornia, is employing AI to help. Working with Cal Fire, the program trained AI to detect smoke and other early indications of fire on a feed from a network of more than 1,050 cameras placed in forests across the state. When the system spots something, it alerts the local fire department via text message. In the first two months, the system had correctly identified 77 fires before any 911 calls came in. “The greatest success stories of this [system] are the fires you never hear about,” says Falco Kuester, co-principal investigator at AlertCalifornia.