Forest Watch cameras fighting Russia’s wildfires

Forest Watch cameras fighting Russia’s wildfires

19 March 2013

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Russia — Lesnoi Dozor (Forest Watch) has proved to be a key tool in tackling , which create havoc every summer.

Just four years ago, Ivan Shishalov, a postgraduate physics student in Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles north-east of Moscow, was working on a project to monitor the city’s traffic jams.

He was approached by officials from the local Forestry Ministry, who were looking for help in detecting the forest wildfires that strike Russia every summer – causing massive damage and disruption.

Instead of starting from scratch, Mr Shishalov and his fellow student, Yaroslav Solovyov, adapted their traffic jam system to fight fires instead. The idea was to locate video cameras at strategic spots to track outbreaks of fire, using software they had already developed.

The two men set up DSC, a company specialising in remote surveillance systems, and called the project Lesnoi Dozor (Forest Watch). The timing could not have been better, as the next summer, 2010, Russia suffered a large number of forest fires across the country.

Yet Forest Watch was not swamped with orders at first. Officials were slow to respond to their proposals, and mobile communications providers, whose towers were to be used to deploy cameras and sensors, were reluctant to co-operate. DSC then

decided it would take part in all tenders and bids for innovative companies and start-ups to make their brand better known. “When your project is getting expert assessments from everywhere, selling it to both investors and customers becomes easier,” Mr Shishalov says.

After then-President Dmitry Medvedev took a personal interest in the company in 2011, its portfolio of government contracts expanded significantly, as did its brand.

Lesnoi Dozor’s coverage expanded from five to 20 regions of Russia, and revenues reached a total of £190,000 in 2011. This year, the company expects the figure to be £1.5m.

Forest Watch recently moved into Russia’s own Silicon Valley, the Skolkovo Innovation Centre near Moscow, and most of its customers are government fire and forestry departments.


Fire alert: the system is based on city traffic technology  


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