San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) became a fire-safety pioneer when the energy company created Fire Safe 1.0. SDG&E described the system as ‘the most highly concentrated network of weather stations and high definition cameras in the country’. The goal is to use data to improve wildfire safety in the county.
Now, the company is welcoming Fire Safe 3.0, a bigger and better version of the original network.
“Using very sophisticated data programs, we’re using all of our outage history, every outage we’ve had in the system for 20 years, plus all of our maintenance history on all of our trees --even on our weather data, and by using artificial intelligence, we can analyze all of these different predictors to help us pinpoint what are the highest risk areas in San Diego,” said Brian D’Agostino, SDG&E Director of Fire Science and Climate Adaptation.
Some of the highlights of the new network, Fire Safe 3.0, according to SDG&E include:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Vegetation Risk Index
- Satellite Wildfire Alerts
- High-Speed Weather Data
So, what’s new about this system?
“We’ve had a weather center in the past where we’ve brought all of our meteorology team together and we’re expanding it – now including retired fire chiefs and then fostering partnerships with academia where we will be bringing in graduate students, working with academia across the state, all based here at SDG&E, said Brian D’Agostino, SDG&E Director of Fire Science and Climate Adaptation.
In addition, the Vegetation Risk Index will continue to play a part in SDG&E’s research – now, on a bigger scale. SDG&E, meteorologists, data scientists and arborists monitor almost half a million trees to determine which trees could impact the energy company’s electric system.
“We look at all of these trees every year. A big part of what is new now is that our data scientists are using very sophisticated programs, even partially artificial intelligence, to identify which trees are the highest risk to our communities and which ones have the greatest risk of igniting catastrophic wildfire-- and then we’re going out in advance and starting to remove these trees if possible and create larger clearances to the safety of our communities,” said Brian D’Agostino, SDG&E Director of Fire Science and Climate Adaptation.
So, what can we expect next?
- ‘Fire Safe 3.0’ has already launched
- SDG&E is building a new facility for their lab, expected to be completed by fire season 2020
- A Wildfire Safety Community Advisory Council was formed from a group of local leaders to give recommendations to SDG&E focused on protecting San Diego from wildfires.