2022 Grants Challenge

Stopping Grid Related Wildfires

Idea by Delphire Inc

We build solutions that provide timely visual information on wildfires because we care about protecting communities and saving lives. Delphire has developed a functional multi-sensor wildfire detection prototype that can operate in areas with no cell service to detect electric grid-related wildfires and report them along with a “selfie” for confirmation. This later point is critical for prioritization of the CalFire sub-20-minute aerial tanker response time across California. These planes cannot afford to chase false positives.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Climate and Environment

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

San Gabriel Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Delphire brings the electric utilities a novel solution for their wildfire problem. Our technology uses visual edge AI monitoring below the tree canopy along their transmission lines’ right of way to catches fires early, during their incipient phase, to prevent the most damage possible. We cover a critical need area where infrared satellite-based detection will be ineffective due to several factors. We expect to reduce the damage on up to 30 fires a year and prevent 5 entirely when deployed over 20,000 pole miles (1 unit/2 transmission towers) at a cost of $250M. The anticipated yearly benefits are: (1) lives saved, (2) $1.5B from reduced direct damages and firefighting costs, (3) $205M in reduced environmental damage from prevented GHG emissions, equivalent to 1 million metric tons CO2 annually.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

This grant will help support our pilot efforts that are ongoing or developing. Currently, through the support of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), we are about to launch a pilot that tests our units with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) as an advisor. This grant would allow us to deploy additional test units to validate our model. Possible sites for these units include Pasadena, a location near the recent Emerald Fire, and additional test units on the LACI LKCI roof. Any additional test sites that the challenge can help us secure would be welcome. The purpose of these additional locations is to grow our sensor network and begin to demonstrate the power that a larger network can bring to data modeling for predicting where the fire will likely spread from any given location.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The pilot would prove our model and put pressure on utilities to adopt our system to keep vulnerable and disadvantaged communities safe. We estimate that in California alone, an eventual high-density deployment covering 20,000 pole miles (1 unit / 2 transmission towers) of conductor at a cost of US$250 Million would result in a reduction in total burn area by 50% for 30 annual fires caught early, and 5 fires presented is equivalent to preventing 1MMT (Million Metric Tons) of CO2. The burn area damages are estimated at $1.5Bn from 35 events ($100M per fire, as most fires are under 100 acres). In addition, the environmental damage from the forest fires emissions alone would at $205M almost cover the cost of our system. These costs do not yet account for the effects of fine matter particulates on people. Our solution will help the local economies by preventing loss of life, destruction, and economic disruption from wildfires, while reducing the duration of Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Immediate Success: Demonstrate that multiple sensor data incorporated in parallel vastly improve the ability to detect, monitor, and predict fire behavior for a single detection. Long term success: Prevention and mitigation of fires significantly benefit those underserved communities, while preserving infrastructure and reducing energy costs in the long term, also benefiting lower income individuals. Wildfires temporarily displaced over 1 million people in the US in 2020, including 600,000 in California, disproportionately affecting disadvantaged individuals and communities, from several factors including environmental effects. Delphire is not only committed to establishing a diverse team, but incentivized to do so through our contract with LACI, which significantly reduces their equity stake as we achieve specific diversity and inclusion goals. LACI has provided Delphire with diversity and inclusion training tailored to growing startups.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 250

Indirect Impact: 2,000,000