Sonoma County in California selected Korea’s leading visual recognition artificial intelligence (AI) firm Alchera to provide early warning and alerts of wildfire events using its technology.
Alchera's solution is the world's first commercialized Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering for wildfire detection. In detail, the firm's visual anomaly detection solution can detect the start of a wildfire from a simple video.
Back in October 2017, a series of destructive wildfires blazed through Northern California, including the Tubbs fire which damaged 36,807 acres from Eastern Napa County to Santa Rosa. As the fire was not detected until it was already too late, this resulted in Sonoma County losing 6,000 structures and 21 lives.
To avoid this from happening again, Sonoma County opened a request for proposal (RFP) to the public. In January 2021, Sonoma County officially selected Alchera as the contract winner after reviewing the submitted proposals.
According to Sam Wallis, the Community Alert & Warning Manager of Sonoma County, "Sonoma County continues to invest in wildfire detection technology that will provide advanced smoke detection warning to emergency managers and first responders. As the field of artificial intelligence has advanced in sophistication, we are excited to add such a monitoring system to our alert and warning toolkit."
Alchera has been working to develop camera-based fire detection algorithms or visual anomaly detection technologies since 2018. Since then, Alchera has been processing millions of images, detecting hundreds of early-stage wildfire ignitions from ALERT Wildfire cameras since June of 2019 through various proof of concepts and trials.
"With our cutting-edge AI-based wildfire detection system, we are able to help reduce the damage of forest fires in California, which, as we have seen, suffers greatly from this phenomenon every year," said Young-Kyoo Hwang, CEO, Alchera. He added, "We are very grateful and honored to see our firm's technology being recognized worldwide. We are now expanding into global markets in earnestwith this export to the US market."
Alchera will start to implement real-time early wildfire detection on Sonoma County cameras from March 2021, with the project timeline intended to run for two years, until March 2023.