What Do a Mayor, Faux Cypress Trees, Germany, and Wildfires Have in Common?

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The City of Calistoga, CA is considering installing five, 60-foot poles, disguised as faux cypress trees, that act as early warning emergency sirens alerting the community and first responders of a wildfire, reported the Napa Valley Register. Wireless cameras function by rotating atop the towers to scan the landscape, sending data to a central monitoring location in Germany where it’s analyzed. The analysts, upon seeing a problem, send an alert to local authorities in California. The 80-decibel alarm is activated only by the city, according to protocol in the event of a wildfire.

The system is being proposed by Illumination Technologies, which will install the poles and cover costs, with a price tag of approximately $600,000, according to the company’s CEO of Information Technology, Chris Canning. The Register reports Calistoga is the company headquarters and Chris Canning is its mayor. Canning said he will recuse himself from any meetings regarding the project.

The poles will serve a dual purpose since Illumination Technologies plans to lease 4G space to carriers to recoup project investments. The towers are solar-powered with battery back-up and are designed to blend in with residential and business surroundings, according to the Register.

Illumination Technologies has been operating such systems for more than 18 years and has amassed 4,800 telecom structures and sites. The company has experience doing social benefit projects related to telecommunications over various countries, with public and private entities.

Residents voiced concerns over the project, including the safety and possible health risks of the cell towers, citing the “profoundly ugly” appearance, and the potential conflict of interest of the project given the mayor works for Illumination Technologies. The project is in the permitting process and should come before the city council in August, said Canning. The goal is to have the poles in place by September, before the start of wildfire season, he added.

July 24, 2019

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