AI, computer vision help insurers, first responders fight wildfires

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On a tower in the Brazilian rain forest, a sentinel scans the horizon for the first signs of fire. They don't blink or take breaks, and guided by artificial intelligence they can tell the difference between a dust cloud, an insect swarm and a plume of smoke that demands quick attention. In Brazil, the devices help keep mining giant Vale SA working, and protect trees for pulp and paper producer Suzano SA. In the future, it's a system that may be put to work in California, where deadly wildfires abound. The equipment includes optical and thermal cameras, as well as spectrometric systems that identify the chemical makeup of substances.


How Artificial Intelligence Could Help Fight Climate Change-Driven Wildfires and Save Lives

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On a tower in the Brazilian rain forest, a sentinel scans the horizon for the first signs of fire. They don't blink or take breaks, and guided by artificial intelligence they can tell the difference between a dust cloud, an insect swarm and a plume of smoke that demands quick attention. In Brazil, the devices help keep mining giant Vale SA working, and protect trees for pulp and paper producer Suzano SA. In the future, it's a system that may be put to work in California, where deadly wildfires abound. The equipment includes optical and thermal cameras, as well as spectrometric systems that identify the chemical makeup of substances.


This Company Will Use Artificial Intelligence To Fight Wildfires

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As wildfires become tougher to control, one company is looking to fight the flames with tech. Compta Emerging Business is the winner of this year's Watson Build Competition sponsored by IBM. The Portugal-based company developed a solution that uses its patented spectrometric analysis technology to detect fires automatically within 5 minutes of ignition and within a range of up to 15 kilometers. "We are bringing artificial intelligence to the game so wildfires can be detected at the earliest stage," said Vasco Correia, Director of International Business at Compta. "We can detect very early and we can recommend firefighting measures."


Using facial recognition technology for hailstorms

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Technology similar to what Facebook uses for recommending what friends you should "tag" may soon be coming to hailstorms. David Gagne, a machine learning scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, is using facial recognition technology to unlock the secrets behind big hail. "I'm using artificial intelligence techniques to predict the size of hailstorms," explained Gagne. Working with computer-simulated storms, he created software that is trained to determine which storms produce hail and then to recognize patterns associated with the storms behind the largest hailstones. "The shape of storms is really important."


Facial recognition technique could improve hail forecasts

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The shape of a severe storm, such as this one, is an important factor in whether the storm produces hail and how large the hailstones are, but current hail-prediction techniques are typically not able to take the storm's entire structure into account. NCAR scientists are experimenting with a new machine-learning technique that can process images to weigh the impact of storm shape and potentially improve hail forecasts. This image is freely available for media and nonprofit use.) The same artificial intelligence technique typically used in facial recognition systems could help improve prediction of hailstorms and their severity, according to a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Instead of zeroing in on the features of an individual face, scientists trained a deep learning model called a convolutional neural network to recognize features of individual storms that affect the formation of hail and how large the hailstones will be, both of which are notoriously difficult to predict.