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AI Stories - Detecting vegetation around power lines with satellite and AI to prevent wildfires

Desiree Hambrock leads operations at Spacept, an AI-powered platform to detect vegetation encroachment around power lines to prevent wildfires among other linear infrastructure inspection solutions like railways, pipelines, and roads . She provides us key insights about Spacept’s vegetation management use case.

$292B. That was the total potential exposure of wildfires as assessed by the Insurance Information Institute in 2014 in a medium scenario. More than 4.5 million U.S. homes were identified at high or extreme risk of wildfire, with more than 2 million in California alone. In 2017 more than 71,499 fires were triggered in the US.

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The causes can be really diverse, ranging from lightning strikes to power lines passing by cigarettes and campfires.


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Wildfires causes in California — 2015 (California Department of Forestry and Fire department — LA Time Graphics)

The most destructive fires come from the power lines.

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Most destructive causes of wildfires in California — 2015 (California Department of Forestry and Fire department (LA Time Graphics)

In an article recently published, we got the opportunity to go through how satellite imagery and artificial intelligence perfectly match each other.

In this second episode of AI Stories, Geoffrey from LabelFlow interviews Desiree Hambrock, COO at Spacept.



The start-up founded in 2019 built an AI-powered platform to analyse satellite imagery automatically. One of the major applications is to identify vegetation encroachment around the electrical power lines and raise alerts to utility companies in order to prevent critical wildfires and save thousands of tons of CO2.

“Thanks to our analytics combining satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, we can identify key risky areas on a large scale and then send inspection or maintenance crews to do more detailed, high resolution analysis of the powerlines’ riskiest zones. For the infrastructure operator, adding satellite imagery to a vegetation management solution saves time, money, and resources -- all while reducing CO2 emissions stemming from helicopters, other inspection vehicles, and wildfires.” said Desiree Hambrock

AI Stories by LabelFlow is a web series dedicated to education around Artificial Intelligence aiming to share the good vibes on AI and how it impacts our lives and our planet.

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