Russian startup “Lesnoy Dozor” battles forest fires with an innovative surveillance system

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September 17, 2013
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Photo of Lesnoy Dozor's forest fires surveillance towers.
View from one of Lesnoy Dozor’s surveillance towers. © Lesnoy Dozor

“Lesnoy Dozor,”or “Forest Watch,” is a Russian startup dedicated to forest fire monitoring and prevention. Applying an innovative technology, formerly used in traffic jam monitoring, for the sake of forest fire surveillance, the company has provided Russia’s regions with an original solution to a serious problem. Lesnoy Dozor’s Marketing Manager Nikolay Kochnev took the time to speak with thinkRUSSIA about his company’s unique approach to forest fire prevention:

Can you describe the Lesnoy Dozor project to me briefly, and explain some of its unique capabilities, uses, and applications? What are your primary goals for this project?

Lesnoy Dozor (translated as Forest Watch) is a terrestrial remote surveillance system designed to observe large forest areas, find forest fires at an early stage, and determine their coordinates online. The main purpose of our company is to develop and advance our monitoring system in Russia and in other countries.

How does the fire sensing system work? How does your project compare with other fire prevention solutions that are being developed?

Sensors are placed in high-rise buildings with a power supply. Cameras have proper zoom characteristics and are controlled by software via the Internet. At any place convenient for the customer, a control center is established (Internet connection is the sole requirement). The system forms a special video archive where all potentially dangerous objects (smoke, fire) are automatically stored. Then someone may verify the suspicious objects and move forward from there.

The main technological difference between Lesnoy Dozor and similar systems is the video archive capability. Currently, an operator doesn’t have time to look through all recorded video data. With Lesnoy Dozor’s software, he only needs to verify the information automatically collected in the archive by the system. This reduces the time of video work by 4-5 times.

What inspired you to launch this project, and how easy or difficult was it to get the project up and running? What difficulties are you still facing to this day?

In 2008, the officials from Nizhny Novgorod Forestry Ministry approached Clever, the local business incubator, and asked for help in setting up a system to detect forest fires. Ivan Shishalov and Yaroslav Solovyov had already participated in a project of traffic jam monitoring (DorogaTV). They thought that it could be helpful to apply the principle to related purposes. They proposed an idea to place video cameras at cell sites and towers to track outbreaks of fire with innovative software. The officials approved the idea, and Lesnoy Dozor was launched soon afterwards.

In April 2010, the controlling block of shares was purchased by Viktor Kornoukhov, chairman of the board of directors of a group of companies called Class Plus. Kornoukhov decided to make this purchase after observing a presentation on Lesnoy Dozor by Clever, the local business incubator. Simultaneously, Lesnoy Dozor’s parent company, DiSiCon, received a series of state grants and won a number of regional and federal contests for its innovative technology. According to Ivan Shishalov, from 2008-2010, more than €240,000 were invested in the development of the project.

Who are your main clients? Where has the project been implemented so far?

Nowadays, the main clients are local forestry departments that take care of wood. But private tenants of the forest and oil companies (with petrol pipes piercing through forests) may also take interest in the system. The project has been implemented in 26 regions of Russia and in 1 region of the Republic of Belarus. This year, 2 agreements have also been concluded to distribute the system in Latin America.

You moved into the Skolkovo Innovation Center in 2012. How do you expect this move to affect your development and future growth?

Tax remissions and government grants (about €120,000) from Skolkovo were very helpful for intensifying our development and scientific work. Before entering Skolkovo (March 2012) we had less than 50 registered cameras in the system. Now – more than 277 are integrated into the program platform. We released a new version of the software, prepared research reports for 28 Russian regions, etc. The significant growth is obvious.

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