DENVER, COLORADO – In an ambitious move to combat the increasing threat of wildfires, Xcel Energy has announced a partnership with artificial intelligence firm Pano AI to deploy advanced wildfire detection technology in Colorado. The state, which ranks second in the United States for the number of homes at risk from wildfires, is set to benefit from the installation of 21 camera systems by year’s end.
These cameras, part of the Pano Rapid Detect platform, will utilize a combination of cutting-edge cameras, satellite technology, 5G connectivity, and AI to constantly survey the state for signs of smoke and fire. The AI component is designed to instantly alert both Xcel Energy and first responders when a potential wildfire is identified, furnishing them with visual evidence and exact locations to expedite their response.
The system will take comprehensive 360-degree images at one-minute intervals, ensuring that monitoring is both continuous and detailed. According to Xcel Energy, these strategically positioned cameras will enhance visibility in areas that are difficult to monitor and provide critical, early detection capabilities that could prove instrumental in controlling wildfires swiftly, thus safeguarding communities and potentially saving lives and property.
This new program follows investigations that found Xcel Energy’s powerlines contributed to the catastrophic Marshall Fire along the Front Range in December of 2021. While Xcel continues to refute their role in the wildfire, they have also take numerous actions to support mitigation efforts, affirming that public safety is and always will be their first priority, regardless of their culpability in the fire.
The integration of such technology reflects a growing trend in wildfire management, wherein utility companies are increasingly turning to AI to bolster their response strategies and community safety measures. As wildfire seasons become a year-round phenomenon, such innovative approaches in Colorado could set a precedent for other at-risk states across the country.