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Jasper Ridge Installs San Mateo County’s first ALERTWildfire Camera

ALERTWildfire view of actual fire in progress

Technology is aiding California firefighters in detecting, responding to, and fighting wildfires through a statewide network of cameras—the ALERTWildfire Camera Network—that can be remotely operated and whose imagery can be viewed by the general public as well as by emergency responders.  The network consists of state-of-the-art Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) fire cameras and associated software tools to help firefighters and first responders detect fires and ignition sources before fires get out of hand, scale up fire-fighting activities efficiently, monitor fire behavior, help in evacuations, and monitor contained fires.  Now, Jasper Ridge and much of the surrounding region is protected by one of these cameras recently installed near Sun Field Station. The camera can rotate through 360 degrees to provide maximum field of view, both near the field station and distant from it, but is set to pixilate areas around the building so that people in the frame are not recognizable.

ALERTWildfire live view with map interface

Typically when there is no fire, the camera will cycle through preset views. But, like all the ALERTWildfire cameras, the Jasper Ridge camera can be controlled remotely and pointed in all directions. It has a powerful zoom to view distant objects. The primary operator is CAL Fire - in an actual wildfire they have priority to control the camera. Jasper Ridge IT staff, other first responders and PG&E also have access to control the camera, which was funded by PG&E and therefore features their logo on the live views. Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and Stanford University will be credited on the Partners page.

ALERTWildfire arose through a consortium of three universities, the University of Nevada-Reno, University of California, and the University of Oregon. It now connects with hundreds of cameras around California and Nevada, which are proving highly successful in helping to precisely pinpoint fires called in to 911 and facilitating on-the-ground and airdrop response.

ALERTWildfire PTZ camera

ALERTWildfire Pan-tilt-zoom camera

Soon, Jasper Ridge staff will be installing a second camera at the Dish which has a commanding view of Jasper Ridge from the east as well as an extensive area of Stanford lands, Portola Valley, and Woodside.  Funding is provided by ALERTWildfire.

Besides increasing fire-safety, the new camera—and the additional one soon to be installed—provide yet one more way to enjoy viewing Jasper Ridge landscapes virtually (and many other areas besides) as COVID-19 restrictions keep us all inside more than we’d like.