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How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Fires in the West


With wildfires becoming bigger and more destructive as the West dries out and heats up, agencies and officials tasked with preventing and battling the blazes could soon have a new tool to add to their arsenal of prescribed burns, pick axes, chain saws and aircraft. The high-tech help could come way of an area not normally associated with fighting wildfires: artificial intelligence. Lockheed Martin Space, based in Jefferson County, Colo., is tapping decades of experience of managing satellites, exploring space and providing information for the U.S. military to offer more accurate data quicker to ground crews. They are talking to the U.S. Forest Service, university researchers and a Colorado state agency about how their their technology could help. By generating more timely information about on-the-ground conditions and running computer programs to process massive amounts of data, Lockheed Martin representatives say they can map fire perimeters in minutes rather than the hours it can take now.

Lockheed testing artificial intelligence to fight wildfires


"Recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions, or taking action," said Dan Lordan, senior manager for AI integration at Lockheed Martin Artificial Intelligence Center. All those words describe artificial intelligence. Lockheed Martin, whose space division is based out of Jefferson County, wants to use AI to help gather critical details during a wildland fire. Lordan says it starts with mapping out a wildfire. It can take hours to determine the size, shape, location and areas emitting the most heat.

Four Cool Artificial Intelligence Technologies


According to the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires have burned 2,990,255 acres this year (June 17). Adding to firefighters' challenges, using current resources, it often takes hours to map a growing wildfire's perimeter and heat spots. It sometimes takes days using fuel property data – often 3-5 years old – to help predict fire behavior. Time is not on their side and the situation on the ground is always changing. Lockheed Martin is using AI/ML to help get critical data to firefighters faster.

The West Is on Fire. Blame the Housing Crisis


California is on fire again. CalFire, one of the agencies charged with putting those fires out, is tracking upward of two dozen conflagrations up and down the state at the moment--Detwiller, Grade, Bridge, Wall, Alamo, Garza, on and on--ranging in size from a couple hundred acres to nearly 50,000. Across the North American West, from Wanblee, South Dakota, to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon; from the Coronado National Forest near the Mexican border in Arizona to Fort Fraser in British Columbia and even farther north, grasses, chaparral, and forest are all ablaze. It's tempting to see each fire season as worse than the last, and to further see that as evidence of the kind of apocalypse that a changing climate will visit on civilization. But researchers have identified an even more pernicious problem: us.

From Supercomputers to Fire-Starting Drones, These Tools Help Fight Wildfires


As devastating wildfires rage throughout the American West, fire agencies across the region are turning to cutting-edge technologies from supercomputers generating near-real-time fire maps to fireball-dropping drones to enhance the way they respond to these disasters. Fires are still won and lost through grueling work on the field and relatively low-tech tactics such as burning strategic areas close to the edge of an active fire to slow or stop its progress and spraying water and foam to slow the blazes. The best tools are often simple ones: saws, bulldozers, water hoses. However, with climate change contributing to more frequent, more severe and larger blazes that threaten humans, infrastructure and natural resources at unprecedented levels, response and suppression methods need to evolve. Innovations are providing firefighting crews with extra tools to detect, contain and even extinguish fires faster and with greater safety.