Alberta turns to AI to help fight wildfires

On the heels of a record-breaking wildfire season, the country is turning to AI for solutions.  

Driving the news: Alberta is adopting artificial intelligence to help the province’s wildfire agency predict where and when wildfires will start. By partnering with software company AltaML, the province will use Microsoft Azure to create next-day fire-likelihood forecasts. 

  • AltaML will analyze data on past wildfires, along with weather forecasts, to help determine where the province should send its wildfire officers and other resources.

  • Microsoft is working with a number of provincial and municipal governments in Canada, including Kelowna, BC, to adopt AI in their wildfire responses.

Why it matters: After a wildfire season that burned nearly 179,000 square kilometres, tech is becoming a big part of Canada's defence. Earlier this month, the Canadian Space Agency announced a $1 billion investment in satellite technology that can help track wildfires. 

  • Rogers announced last month that it's also investing in technology that uses AI cameras on its cell towers to locate and capture smoke before flames even erupt. 

Zoom out: Better tech could also help reduce the financial hit of wildfire response, a big deal for a province like BC, which spent almost $1 billion fighting wildfires this year.—LA