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California’s AI-Powered Wildfire Prevention Efforts Contend With Data Challenge

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Organizations: Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric, AWS

Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and PG&E Corp. say they see promise in AI algorithms that use images captured by drones and other means to detect anomalies in infrastructure that could lead to wildfires. However, they say it will likely take years to gather enough data to deploy the algorithms at scale across their infrastructure, where they would augment ongoing manual inspections.

San Diego Gas & Electric said it has 75 working models designed to detect specific conditions or damages on company assets or third-party equipment. Gabe Mika, senior group product manager, said each is trained on anywhere from 100 to 5,000 images. SDG&E has leveraged several of Amazon Web Services’ machine-learning and computer vision tools to help build the models, the company said.

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