EPRI pilots an AI-based wildfire detection system with PG&E


A new company, Pano AI, which offers wildfire early detection and intelligence, announced the successful completion of initial pilots with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Portland General Electric (PGE) through Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Incubatenergy Labs.

Pano said the pilot programs have demonstrated how ultra-high-definition imagery and artificial intelligence can quickly and accurately detect fires, enhancing situational awareness to prevent potential devastation.

San Francisco-based Pano AI provides a platform that enables utilities to detect, assess, and pinpoint new fires earlier, so that they can be contained while still small, it said. The platform uses a network of connected, ultra-high-definition cameras continuously rotating atop high vantage points, capturing a 360-degree panoramic view of the landscape every minute. This camera data, combined with satellite imagery, emergency call details, and other data feeds enables Pano AI’s artificial intelligence to monitor for threats and provide actionable intelligence in a single, intuitive interface.

 “The pilot with Pano AI has demonstrated our ability to leverage technology to support and enhance our situational awareness,” said Ben Almario, Director of Wildfire Safety Operations at PG&E. “The technology will provide actual intelligence to support our decision making and also allow us to monitor multiple fires in a geographic area. The pilot has demonstrated that we can understand the risk of a wildfire as it relates to our assets.”

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Jay Landstrom, Senior Manager of Wildfire Analytics and Resiliency for Portland General Electric said that the company camera and intelligence center “could help PG&E detect potential fire starts before they become catastrophic fire events. Early intelligence will be critical information that will help keep our customers and our field personnel safe.”

“Today, we all have a front-row seat as climate change increases the risk of impactful fire across the globe. And as we know these fires started out small. The faster the fire detection, the less chance we will have with an out of control wildfire,” said Doug Dorr, Program Manager of EPRI. “It’s been impressive to watch what started as an interesting idea to detect smoke using AI and no human intervention turn into a successful collaboration between EPRI, PG&E, Portland General, and Pano AI.”

Recognizing that the growing threat of global warming presents a unique challenge to wildfire mitigation, Pano is actively working to protect communities from the dangers of wildfire devastation, it said. In addition to Pano’s new large-scale utility partners, California fire departments and private companies have also adopted Pano AI to track wildfires in high-risk areas as soon as the first wisps of smoke appear. Pano AI partnerships include Aspen, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Big Sky, Montana, and multiple regions around California.

 You can see some footage of how the technology works in the video below.

This article first appeared on our sister portal POWERGRID International