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New Mexico using satellites to track wildfires in real-time

Many Californians have seen images of wildfires from every possible angle, including from outer space. While it makes for exciting pictures with tragic implications regarding deaths of humans and wildlife as well as damage to land and property, New Mexico has turned to satellites to track fires and allocate resources in real-time.

According to Insurance Journal, New Mexico’s State Forestry Division now gets real-time alerts from a satellite tracking system created by a local start-up in Santa Fe. Integrating satellites, AI, image recognition, and modeling using supercomputers, the new program detects temperature increases using data that is updated every few minutes. The program then sends text messages to staff at the State Forestry with the location pinpointed on a detailed map.

This is a real game-changer for the agency, which attempts to fight fires while also providing other services on a limited budget. The program has identified 60 wildfires that threatened homes, state land and watersheds in the first three months of 2020. This allows firefighters to prioritize the importance of the fires and put them out when they are smaller and easier to control.

Applicable elsewhere and other threats

The company appears to be on the leading edge of data collection and refinement to these results – it also can track the status of agriculture. This would no doubt be helpful for California’s forestry agency as well as state officials and even insurance companies who potentially have claims in a specific area, providing additional clarity and evidence regarding the circumstances of fires and subsequent damage.