Sonoma Turns to AI to Fight Wildfires

Sonoma County will soon use cutting-edge technology to try to spot wildfires as soon as they start.

The county has signed a contract with South Korean artificial intelligence firm Alchera for visual anomaly detection software that would detect and alert authorities when there is evidence of a wildfire.

The technology works by searching images of terrain from past and present and monitoring any changes, such as the presence of flames or smoke, Sonoma's Director of Emergency Management Chris Godley said.

It’s a work in progress. The system must first be trained to differentiate wildfire smoke from clouds, fog, or vapor. The county is hopeful that can be accomplished by November.

Sonoma County has been hit by some devastating wildfires in recent years. In October 2017, the Tubbs fire destroyed thousands of structures and cost 21 people their lives.