Deadwood, South Dakota, has just installed digital fire lookouts:
So the town has installed five high-tech detectors high atop ridges around town... A sensor scans the full horizon every two minutes. When it detects a growing fire, the unit sends a signal to a satellite, which relays the information to the company's dispatch center. It also calls the local 911 dispatcher and fire department.
The range is up to six miles, depending on terrain, and they're powered by sunlight so they don't need electricity and are always working. That means if a lightning strike sparks a fire overnight, it can be detected long before the sun comes up and spreads to a dangerous size. And early detection is key to getting fire crews in what are often remote areas...
Our increasing ability to monitor what goes on in nature has been of interest to us here at WorldChanging from the first, and for good reason: knowing nature through technology allows for all sorts of better management practices to become practical on a broad scale. We can't really value (much less protect) what we can't see, but our vision is getting better and better.