AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council approved a contract between an artificial intelligence company and Austin Energy Thursday to better protect the community against wildfire. It’s the first time the technology will be used in Texas.
Pano AI uses high-definition cameras and artificial intelligence to detect wildfire smoke and notify fire crews.
The technology helps expedite the fire response and can help protect crews from possible downed power lines, in the case of Austin Energy.
The company uses 360-cameras, which will be put at high points such as cell towers throughout Austin Energy’s coverage area, which includes Travis County and parts of surrounding counties.
“We’re gonna fine-tune the locations working closely with Austin Energy and the local fire departments. But you’re gonna have 12 locations, typically they’re about 10 miles apart,” said Arvind Satyam, chief commercial officer and co-founder of Pano AI.
That’s going to happen over the next few months and will be up and running before the next fire season, Satyam said.
Austin Energy says it worked with the Austin Fire Department to get the program to Austin and that it will help alert fire crews earlier, especially in more rural parts of Travis County.
“We can also monitor and see where it [a fire] is in relation to our infrastructure, and so if we do have something going towards our infrastructure we might be able to shut off the power and then make it safer and help the firefighters out,” said Chris Vetromile, Austin Energy wildfire program manager.
Vetromile also says it could help prevent another wildfire in the area if they’re able to detect power lines at risk and deactivate them.
“This is pretty cutting edge. We’ll be the first in Texas to implement this,” Vetromile told KXAN.