This California fire chief is building a satellite system to detect wildfires as soon as they start

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Could low-Earth-orbit satellites, working with software and sensors, alert firefighters to new fires before they grow out of control? When thousands of lightning strikes hit Northern California in late August, the fires that sparked in remote areas weren’t detected until they had already grown. The tiny bit of rain that arrived with the storm kept much of the smoldering low at first. “It was only a couple of days later, as things dried out, that those fires really exploded into life,” says Dave Winnacker, fire chief of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in the Bay Area. Read Full Story

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6 Bay Area counties ordered to ‘shelter in place’ to halt the spread of COVID-19

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Not quite a lockdown, but it might as well be. Some 6.7 million denizens of San Francisco’s Bay Area are being told to “shelter in place” in an effort to curb the coronavirus outbreak. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle , the directive will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 17 and remain until April 7. Among the six counties that have been ordered, Santa Clara logged 37 COVID-19 cases so far and one related death. Read Full Story

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If you have a spare room, you can host a person leaving prison

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Homecoming Project connects people coming back after a jail sentence with a place to stay—and pays their rent to help them get back on their feet. For someone getting out of prison, one of the biggest challenges is finding somewhere to live—especially in an ultra-expensive housing market such as the Bay Area. A Bay Area-based program called the Homecoming Project offers an alternative to the usual listings on Craigslist: It links former prisoners with homeowners who have spare rooms, and it covers the first six month’s rent. Read Full Story

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Once we can work from anywhere, does the world need Silicon Valley?

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With tech companies saying they’ll let staffers choose where to live, entrepreneurs and technologists might finally stop flocking to the Bay Area. As pundits and industry insiders line up to say farewell to the dream of the Bay Area and the mythos that accompanies it, Silicon Valley veterans who have weathered previous storms remain skeptical much will change. After all, the cradle of innovation on California’s coast has already survived multiple major downturns, including the dot-com crash of the late 90s and the financial crisis of 2008. Read Full Story

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This honey is real—but it wasn’t made by bees

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MeliBio is building honey in the lab, not in the hive. As startups make milk proteins without cows and palm oil without palm trees , researchers at a lab in the San Francisco Bay Area are working on one of the next challenges: how to make honey that’s identical to the traditional product but doesn’t require the work of any honeybees. Read Full Story

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This grocery startup is placing fully stocked fridges of free food around the Bay Area

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Cheetah usually gives its expiring food to food banks, but its been inspired by mutual aid projects in New York to also start delivering groceries to a network of street fridges that anyone in need can take advantage of. On a section of Kammerer Avenue in San Jose, California, you’ll find a white refrigerator, adorned with paintings of garlic and carrots by local street artists, sitting right on the sidewalk. Inside, you might find gallons of juice, cartons of eggs, loaves of bread and a drawer full of vegetables all for the taking, at no cost. The fridge was set up by Cheetah, a wholesale grocery delivery startup, as a way to reduce the company’s food waste and give that food directly to Bay Area residents in need. Read Full Story

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Microsoft’s CTO wants to spread tech’s wealth beyond the coasts

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In a new book, Kevin Scott argues that AI can help rural areas thrive—both by boosting existing businesses such as farming, and allowing new businesses to emerge. Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott and I share a few things in common. We both grew up in small American towns in the 70s and 80s, he in Virginia, me in Nebraska. We both now live and work in the Bay Area. We both make fairly frequent trips back to rural America to see family and friends. Read Full Story

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California is on fire, and the smoke is visible from space

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In San Francisco, wildfires are currently making the air quality among the worst in the world. There are now 367 wildfires burning in California. In the Bay Area, where fires are burning in every direction from San Francisco, the air quality is currently among the worst in the world. There’s an eerie orange glow in my apartment in Oakland, and ash is falling outside. The smoke is so thick it’s visible from space. Read Full Story

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