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UBC Okanagan involved with AI pilot project for early detection of wildfires

The project also involves SpaceX low-bandwidth technology
Flames from the Donnie Creek wildfire burn along a ridge top north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, Sunday, July 2, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Noah Berger

UBC Okanagan (UBCO) is part of a pilot program using AI and SpaceX technology to better predict wildfires in remote areas of B.C.

Rogers Communications is investing in satellite-connected sensors, with SpaceX’s low-bandwidth Swarm service, and Pano AI cameras on the company’s 5G network that detects smoke up to a 20- kilometre range.

“Working together with Rogers, we are equipping forests with satellite-connected sensors and 5G AI cameras,” said Dr. Mathieu Bourbonnais, assistant professor at the Department of earth, environmental and geographic sciences, UBCO.

Bourbonnais added the technologies will provide real-time data that can provide the foundation for an early warning system for wildfires.

The cameras will be located on wireless towers near Fort St. James, Smithers and Chetwynd.

“Early detection of wildfires is critical in preventing their spread to help protect communities and our forests,” said Sonia Kastner, CEO, of Pano AI.

The technology builds on ongoing 5G research by Rogers, UBC and the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) to enable better detection and help first responders manage devastating events.

“Climate change is a global issue that requires urgent action,” said Tony Staffieri, president and CEO, of Rogers. “Communities across the country are facing the effects of unprecedented wildfires.”

The company is also donating satellite phones to the B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSRA) to support first responders.

“Communications are critical in search and rescue operations for the safety of everyone involved,” said Dwight Yochim, CEO.

The donation of satellite phones will have a direct impact on the safety of 3,400 search and rescue members across the province, Yochim added.

READ MORE: Canadian Wildfire Conference to be hosted in Kelowna

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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