PG&E now using satellite to monitor wildfires


US utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company has deployed its satellite fire detection and alerting system to monitor and fight against California wildfires.

The system incorporates data from two new GOES satellites, as well as three polar orbiting satellites, to provide the utility with advanced warning 24/7 of potential new fire incidents.

The satellites are operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service division.

Read more stories on wildfires here

The utility is also partnering with the University of Wisconsin–Madison Space Science and Engineering Center to monitor California wildfires using satellite.

PG&E workers use a dashboard to track fire progression, and the intensity of fires in near real time. The system also generates new fire alerts via email and on an app.

The system has already detected hundreds of fires since the trial’s start in February 2019.

As part of its Community Wildfire Safety Programme, PG&E is conducting daily aerial inspections of its lines, operating a network of weather stations as well as some cameras to improve its fire prediction and response capabilities

“This capability offers first-of-its-kind situational awareness by providing a live feed from the satellites to our Wildfire Safety Operations Center,” said Sumeet Singh, Vice President of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program.

 “Once the fire detection and monitoring algorithm detects the heat signature of a possible fire, an alert is generated and made available to analysts in the Wildfire Safety Operations Center. They then leverage other data, such as the new wildfire alert cameras or information from external agencies, to confirm if there is fire in the area and its proximity to any infrastructure. The application we’ve developed displays detections on an interactive map, which also allows users to track the general spread and intensity of fires in near real-time as the data are refreshed as quick as every minute,” said Scott Strenfel, Principal Meteorologist for PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program.