Korea’s visual recognition AI firm Alchera is specialized in the early detection of fires, which helped it score a contract from California’s Sonoma County.
Under the deal announced in March 2021, Alchera will offer consulting services to develop and deliver products utilizing state-of-the-art fire detection technologies based on machine learning with Artificial Intelligence (AI). The firm’s visual anomaly detection solution can detect the start of a wildfire from a simple video in order to survey areas unreachable by humans.
Specifically, the software called AIIR looks for smoke and fire when and where human operators cannot, and acts as a tireless assistant. Once smoke or fire is detected from the connected camera, it is shown to the monitoring system dashboard. From there, a human operator can confirm the fire and take the necessary steps. If needed, this will also trigger automated alerts by email or SMS as desired — drastically reducing the response time for emergency center operators. This further allows for human verification and relearning for low false positives and a continually advancing system.
Alchera’s AI allows for 1 human operator to effectively monitor 200+ cameras at a time.
In October of 2017, a series of destructive wildfires blazed through Northern California, including the Tubbs fire which burned 36,807 acres from Eastern Napa County to Santa Rosa, in which Sonoma County lost 6,000 structures and 21 lives. Sonoma County opened an RFP to the public primarily in response to this event, as the fire was not detected until it was already too late. In January 2021, Sonoma County officially selected Alchera as the contract winner after reviewing the submitted proposals.
The company has been working to develop camera-based fire detection algorithms or visual anomaly detection technologies since 2018. The first such deployment was with Korea’s largest utility, KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corp.) to deploy fire detection systems in both indoor and outdoor environments. Since then, AIIR has been processing millions of images — detecting hundreds of early-stage wildfire ignitions from ALERT Wildfire cameras since June of 2019 through various proof of concepts and trials.
“With our cutting-edge AI-based wildfire detection system, we are able to help reduce the damage of forest fires in California, which, as we have seen, suffers greatly from this phenomenon every year,” Young-Kyoo Hwang, CEO of Alchera, said at the time of the deal announcement.
The firm has started with the implementation of real-time early wildfire detection on Sonoma County cameras in March 2021.
AIIR allows for 1 human operator to effectively monitor 200+ cameras at a time.
Procuring Alchera's solution (AIIR) makes sense for municipalities that have or are surrounded by big forest areas. The company's pitch is rather simple - their AI software helps cities, towns and counties prevent wildfires without rebuilding their infrastructure. Instead of installing a new detection system, AIIR is flexible enough and can work with existing connected cameras. In that sense, the person behind the initiative of procuring this software can score (political) points in the "people safety" area. And that gotta count for something.
If your company is already selling software and related services, you could contact Alchera to be their distributor for the municipalities your business covers — presuming they are in the areas where wildfires occur. With its ability to detect wildfires before they become a big problem, Alchera's AIIR pays off with the first incident. The best part is that the municipality doesn't have to procure new cameras, with existing connected gear being able to sing along Alchera's software. There's an instant saving that you should emphasize in your pitch.