As California Fires Rage On, Infrared Technology Is Helping Firefighters On The Front Lines

The tech allows drones to see through the smoke to the heart of the fires.

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This summer’s Thomas Fire was one of the biggest in California history.

This has been a devastating year for wildfires in California. In August, three of the biggest fires in California history were all blazing at the same time charring 820,000 acres across the state.

But even as the fire cycle seems to be getting worse, new technology is helping firefighters beat down the blazes more efficiently. The California Air National Guard is using drones equipped with infrared technology to fly above fires and see through the smoke. In one instance, the drone was able to see that firefighters who thought they were battling one spot fire were actually in a ring of seven fires that were closing in.

Read more about how this technology is changing the way we fight fires in California here.

Dubai Is Lit: A San Francisco Company Brings Vertical Farming To The Middle East

A San Mateo-based company is bringing greens to the desert using hydroponic farming.

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Growing greens without using soil is all the rage. Photo via Flickr.

San Mateo-based Crop One Holding is bringing the best of the Salinas Valley (otherwise known as America’s salad bowl) to Dubai thanks to a new deal between the farming  company and Emirates Airlines. Crop One will build a 50-foot high sealed warehouse next to the Emirates runway where it will produce 3 tons of leafy vegetables per day for the airline to use for onboard meals.

Crop One grows its greens hydroponically which means it doesn’t use soil. Instead, it nourishes the plants with a nutrient-rich water and LED lights. For more on this cool technology you can check out this story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thirsty California Takes A Deep Breath

This animated GIF seems to show the state breathing as water moves in and out of aquifers.

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Credit: Bryan Riel and Mark Simons

Water is California’s most precious resource and as global warming continues to take a toll, managing that resource is going to become increasingly important.

To help water managers better understand the underground aquifers that store the state’s water, geophysicists at Caltech used satellite photos that tracked the deformation of the earth over 18 years as Southern California aquifers were filled and emptied. The result is this GIF which seems to show the state breathing. Learn more about the study and its implications here.

 

Technology Is Helping To Save Lives In The Northern California Fires

Text alerts, Twitter, Nextdoor — California local governments are using any means necessary to alert people early about coming fires.

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A truck burned by the recent fires in Northern California.

The fires in Northern California have already burned thousands of acres and forced residents from their homes, but thankfully, the death toll has been relatively low. That’s because the counties around San Francisco have gotten savvier about using technology to alert people to leave their homes before the danger gets too close.

According to one article, the number of people who signed up to receive alerts in Sonoma County has jumped from 20,000 to 275,000. Governments are taking advantage of everything from Twitter to artificial intelligence to better reach people who need to evacuate. You can read more about the state’s efforts in this article on Xconomy.

Alexa, When Is Garbage Day?

Amazon’s Alexa technology is helping residents get the information they need from local governments.

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Government technology is notorious for being old fashioned and out of date. Just go into any local municipal office and gaze in wonder at the green-screened desktop computers straight out of the 1990s.

But some towns are zooming into the future. Raleigh, N.C., has turned to Amazon’s Alexa to help citizens get answers to common questions about zoning, police and fire and even traffic conditions. You can read more about how the AI future is coming to local government here.

Goal: Speed Security Lines At LAFC’s Stadium

Smarter security means quicker lines.

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Photo courtesy of LAFC.

Waiting in security lines sucks. It can sometimes feel like it takes as long to get into a venue as it does to enjoy the concert or the game. And as security needs increase, it’s likely only going to get worse.

The Bank of California stadium in LA, home to the city’s newest soccer team, LAFC, is hoping to make life a little easier through a partnership with CLEAR, a security company that uses biometrics to quickly move people through security lines. You can read more about the partnership here.

We Sail The Ocean Blue, And Our Drone Ship’s A Beauty

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If you see a flotilla of unmanned orange vessels making their way toward San Diego, don’t be alarmed. They’re here to help.

The autonomous sailing vehicles, made by Alameda, California-based tech company Saildrone in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are sailing from Canada on a mission to collect information about fish populations. Each Saildrone has 18 sensors that collect data about the ocean below it: wind speed and direction, temperature, salinity, etc.

“Saildrones are 20-feet long and 19-feet off the water,” said Richard Jenkins, CEO of Saildrone, Inc. “Weigh about 60 pounds and can operate kind of indefinitely. Wind propulsion pushes it along, solar charges the batteries and computer for communication.”

See the Saildrones in action below:

Read more about them here.

California Is Ready For The Robot Revolution

Technology revolutions are nothing new in California. Local leaders say we can handle the way automation is changing the jobs landscape.

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The robots are coming.

Automation is expected to eliminate 1 million U.S. jobs by 2026. This has plenty of people panicked. But  a group of California political, educational and business leaders believe the state is well-prepared to handle this transition as workers who are displaced train and move into higher-paid jobs that either can’t be done by robots or work in human-machine harmony.

Says University of California President Janet Napolitano:

Every time we undergo a major shift in technology new jobs that haven’t yet been imagined are created. We need to educate the next generation with an eye towards this unpredictable future and retrain older workers for new types of work.

Read more from local leaders here.

 

The Immediate Answer To Connectivity Problems Is Under Our Noses (And Seats)

While Americans wait for 5G to roll out, we have a real, immediate need for increased capacity, says Mike Montgomery, and a practical means for achieving it: small cell antennas.

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The benefits of 5G are obvious: lightning-fast video downloads, zero-lag streaming playback, fewer dropped calls, and the capacity needed to create truly smart cities.

But while the switch from 4G to 5G is exciting, writes Mike Montgomery of CALinnovates, this technology is still years from rolling out. In the meantime, he says, we have a real, immediate need for increased capacity, and a practical means for achieving it: small cell antennas.

As their name implies, these 4G-boosting devices are small enough to sit on utility poles, traffic lights and even under the seats at stadiums. And, as Montgomery points out, they’re essential for laying the groundwork for 5G. So what are cities waiting for?

Read the rest of Montgomery’s post here.

How Silicon Valley Became Silicon Valley

It turns out, Silicon Valley was always ahead of the curve.

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Silicon Valley is a $3 trillion neighborhood where Teslas, mansions and startups are thick on the ground. And it turns out, the area south of San Francisco was always a tech-forward region. Check out this entertaining and informative video from Tech Insider to learn more about how Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley.