The superintendent is looking to use artificial intelligence more widely to help prevent wildfires

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A solar-powered fire detector is seen along Skyline Boulevard at Manzanita Drive in Oakland. Sensors use artificial intelligence to detect small fires before they spread. The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council is installing the same sensors along the Los Gatos Creek watershed, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee recommends they be installed throughout the counties’ wildland urban interface.

As local officials work to install sensors along the Los Gatos Creek watershed that use artificial intelligence to detect wildfires, Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee recommends installing the sensors throughout the counties’ wild-urban interface.

The Saratoga-based FireSafe Council is working with San Jose Water to install 10 sensors across 6,000 acres in the watershed to protect the water supply for millions of Santa Clara County residents.

The solar sensors, from the technology company N5 Sensors, measure gas, particulate matter and heat. AI then analyzes this data to determine where small fires might be before they spread. This data also makes its way into an interactive dashboard to provide visualization of sensor and fire alarm data.

“These sensors cover more ground and can detect fires earlier and earlier, especially in the smoldering stages when there’s not even a flame,” said Seth Shalette, executive director of the Santa Clara County Fire Safety Council. Not visible.

The Board of Supervisors serves as the governing board for the Central Counties Fire Protection District, Southern Santa Clara County Fire District and Los Altos Hills County Fire District. Lee noted that given the frequency and severity of wildfires in the Bay Area in recent years, more proactive measures are needed to deal with this growing threat and protect people, property, wildlife and land.

Lee, who represents Milpitas and Sunnyvale on the board of supervisors, added that adding sensors can greatly improve detection times and complement other fire prevention resources and technologies such as cameras.

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