California’s wildfire detection tool, ALERTCalifornia, which works in tandem with CAL FIRE AI Wildfire Detector, has been named one of the ‘Best Inventions of 2023’ by TIME.

ALERTCalifornia is a partnership between UC San Diego and CAL FIRE, and it uses AI technology along with a statewide network of cameras that is able to detect smoke and other early indications of fire.

ALERTCalifornia launched on May 3, with six of CAL FIRE’s 21 command centers serving as test areas for the new fire detection technology.

TIME said that within the first two months of the system, 77 fires were identified and alerted local fire crews before any 911 calls were made to dispatch.

“California is fighting fires smarter, combining cutting-edge technology with a world-class firefighting force – all to better protect our communities,” Governor Gavin Newsom wrote in a news release. “CAL FIRE has been spearheading this effort from the very beginning, proactively partnering with UC San Diego and embracing innovation in their constant efforts to make California more resilient to wildfires.”

Along with early fire detection, ALERTCalifornia can also serve as a way for scientists to gain a better understanding of the long-term effects from natural disasters on air quality, water quality and more.

“Data acquired in the highest fire-threat regions will significantly empower firefighters, first responders, legislators, city planners and scientists for years to come,” said Neal Driscoll, director of ALERTCalifornia and geoscientist at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The system was able to test its natural disaster monitoring capabilities during the winter storms of 2023 as flooding, landslides, intense snowfall and hazardous road conditions were able to be viewed in real-time.

Features of ALERTCalifornia

Most Recent Camera Movements

When first entering the AlertCalifornia website, visitors will be shown a map of California with nearly countless cameras to choose from across the state, along with a grid showing live camera views.

The top four cameras shown are the ones that have been moved most recently. These cameras will also display a time-stamp showing when the camera was last moved.

This can be helpful for quickly finding a camera that gives the best view of a newly spotted fire or other natural disaster.

Address Search

The new address search feature allows you to type in the address or GPS coordinates of where a fire is reported to be. This will automatically zoom in on the map and show you the closest cameras.