On the Lookout for CaliforniaWildfires

The UC San Diego-managed ALERTCalifornia network of mountaintop cameras act as remote eyes for fire fighters, and the public.

PUBLISHED JUN 21, 2024 2:55 P.M.
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Hundreds of Internet-connected cameras  provide a birds eye view of California.

Hundreds of Internet-connected cameras provide a birds eye view of California.

In July, 2013, technicians from the University of Nevada Reno Seismological Laboratory installed an Internet connected camera on a tower overlooking the Lake Tahoe region. The next day, it was used to help manage the Bison Fire, and the ALERTWildfire project was born.

Over the next few years, the network of cameras grew in the Tahoe area and throughout Nevada. In 2016, the University of Oregon joined the program and cameras were installed in Oregon and Washington. Since then, the original network has grown to hundreds of cameras in six states.

The cameras in California are managed by the University of California San Diego with partners CalFire and tech company DigitalPath as the ALERTCalifornia network.

ALERTCalifornia spans the state, and is incorporating AI into the system to facilitate early detection of wildfires.

Cameras on the ALERTCalifornia network are publicly available for viewing over the Internet, and provide a window on the state. One of my favorite cameras is located on a radio tower at an elevation of 3,773 feet on Loma Prieta, overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay.

On most days, the Loma Prieta camera is looking over the bay, and I like to use the timelapse function to watch the fog roll in and out. In August 2020, it was focused on the CZU Complex fires ravaging Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties and providing wildfire managers an extra set of eyeballs on the action.

As the California climate becomes hotter and drier, and the danger of fire increases, it’s good to know someone is watching over us.

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