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Forest Guard presents the 'proof of concept' to leading political advisors [Jan. 5th, 2010|11:51 am]
On 12 and 13 December, Alejandro Vega and Andrew Wood from the Forest Guard team attended Bright Green in Copenhagen to present the Forest Guard proof of concept to some of the world's leading authorities on climate change.

The Forest Guards held presentations with Morgan David, Sony Director of Research and Development, and answered questions to media and guests from around the world. World famous inventor Dean Kamen and John P Holdren, advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, visited the stand as well as the US Ambassador to Denmark, the Crown Prince of Denmark, the Crown Prince of Norway and the Crown Princess of Sweden (pictured above).

Andrew commented on his experience at Bright Green:

"Alejandro, Coach Heidi and I went to present Forest Guard at the Bright Green Climate Tradeshow. We were based at the Sony booth and one of the coolest things about the trip was getting to meet several amazing people (plus especially getting to ride a Segway!).

I enjoyed meeting Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST and the inventor of the Segway (thumbs up!), the insulin pump, an energy effecient water purifier and many other astounding inventions. Meeting with him and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the owner of LEGO was very interesting and they were very excited about Forest Guard.

We also got to meet a trio of royals: the Prince of Denmark, Prince of Norway and Princess of Sweden. They were very nice and they all showed interest in our idea. Both Princes had been to Tahoe and skied there, so they understood where we were putting the Forest Guard cameras and how they would help.

We also met Mr Holdren, who was equally impressed with Forest Guard and realized that good ideas often come from middle school kids, because they are still imaginative, but are not too outrageous with wacky ideas, which younger kids might entertain!

This was an interesting trip and I enjoyed meeting all of these amazing people."

Alejando added:

"Over two days, we explained our idea to a substantial number of participants at Bright Green who expressed considerable interest in Forest Guard. I had a great time and I’m really glad I had this experience."

(Picture 1: From left to right, Eva Bjorling, Secretary of Commerce, Sweden, Crown Prince of Denmark, Crown Prince of Norwary and Crown Princess of Sweden meeting members of the Forest
Guard team and the team’s coach, Heidi Buck)

(Picture 2: From left to right, Alejando, Coach Heidi, Andrew, Dean Kamen and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen)
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In video: Making the ideas a reality [Dec. 7th, 2009|01:31 pm]
The Forest Guard team's fire detection prototype is installed in Tahoe, California, for testing.

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Children's forest fire detection system deployed by Sony Europe [Dec. 2nd, 2009|05:13 pm]
The Forest Guard team was excited as their partnership with Sony reached a vital stage, with the youngsters having the enormous satisfaction of seeing their forest wildfire detection system set up in their local forest for testing.

Their idea uses a network of solar-powered CCTV cameras and citizen fire watchers over the web to obtain advance warning of wildfires before they manage to spread. Forest Guard has been working hard with Sony engineers over the summer, resulting in an initial version of the system being installed and tested in the team’s local Tahoe National Forest in California. The University of Nevada, Reno offered the project local support with Dr. Graham Kent and his team helping test and maintain the network of cameras.

“We are so pleased we could bring our technology and engineering skills to this project and help this young team’s idea become a reality”, says Morgan David, Divisional Director, Research and Development (R&D) at Sony. “To apply technology to help solve the problems of climate change is at the heart of Sony’s philosophy and we will continue to collaborate with the Forest Guard initiative and support this project.”

The Sony designs and software for the Forest Guard proof of concept will be released in to the public domain and a white paper will also be made available so that the technology is available to all scientists, governments and NGOs working to combat wildfires globally.

This month, some of the team will also be returning to Copenhagen during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) to present the ‘proof of concept’ with Sony at the Bright Green exhibition (12th – 13th December 2009). Forest Guard will be showcasing how their idea can make a difference globally to both people’s lives and carbon emissions. H.R.H The Crown Prince of Denmark, the US Secretary of Commerce and the US Ambassador to Denmark are dignitaries set to attend Bright Green alongside General Manager of LEGO Education Jens Maibom and world famous inventor Dean Kamen.

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Forest Guard members' homes threatened by fire [Sep. 16th, 2009|05:09 pm]
This month, forest fires once again broke out in the Auburn area in northern California. The 190 sq. mile fire torched 63 homes and businesses and was a threat to many more. The families of Forest Guard members, Aydan, Bobby, Faith and Drew, were evacuated from their homes as the fire continued to burn closer to their properties. Aydan gave his first-hand account of the situation:

"When I first saw the smoke I was coming home from the mall. The smoke was bellowing high from the trees, like a big black cloud. My friend Wyatt had called me and was worried that my house had burnt down, but it was ok. The whole time my stomach had a twisted feeling. We had to take back roads to get home because our normal roads were shut down. Soon after we were home, the phone rang; it was a man’s recorded voice saying we needed to evacuate. My stomach knotted up again. My parents asked my sister and me to pack a few things for overnight. After the power went out we left and went to my aunt and uncle’s house. After a few hours, the fire was put out and we went home. The next day I passed the destruction left by the fire; along the highway we could see the trees and businesses that were destroyed. There is a lot of black where there used to be so much green."

The team’s understanding of the effect this fire has had on their surrounding environment was amplified by the recent research they carried out as part of the ongoing development of the Forest Guard early warning detection system. The team recently investigated the devastation that the fires in Mammoth, near Auburn, caused, by hiking up to the site of the fires, which destroyed over 650 acres in July 2009

The fire destroyed most of the landscape and all that lived there. The team surveyed the charred area, walking past burnt pine and oak trees and deep ash that covered the ground.

After visiting the Mammoth burn site the Forest Guards drove up to the site of the 2001 Emigrant Gap fire. This fire was the result of human activity, and although it was contained within four days, it burned about 2,500 acres in total.

Aydan commented, "I was happy to see that though fire can destroy quickly, nature will grow back even if it takes a few years. This gives me confirmation of how important Forest Guard is for our world to help detect a wild fire fast to save what nature is out there."

** All photos courtesy of Heidi Buck


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In video: developing wildfire detection prototypes [Jul. 30th, 2009|01:57 pm]
Follow the Forest Guard kids as they continue the development of their innovative wildfire detection system. The Forest Guard team flew to Basingstoke to meet with Sony engineers and Director of Research and Development, Morgan David, to further expand their ideas for the wildfire detection system including the development of software, servers and solar CCTV camera prototypes.

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Fires rage in the home of the Forest Guards [Jul. 20th, 2009|11:45 am]
Last Thursday, at 4pm in California, forest fires broke out close to the homes of the Forest Guard team and their coach, Heidi Buck, in Auburn, California. It is suspected the fire was started by fireworks and spread quickly to cover over 100 acres. Just over an hour later the fire had engulfed an additional 250 acres. Local firemen, accompanied by helicopters transporting water, battled the fire in an attempt to control the damage to the forest surrounding Auburn. The local Auburn Journal reported that "About 375 fire personnel have responded to the call, 325 of which are California Fire crew members. California Fire also reported 25 engines, 12 fire crews, five air tankers, four helicopters, three dozers and four water tenders responded. An additional two engines not from California Fire assisted as well as three non-California Fire dozers". By 8.40pm, local crews were able to control the spread of the fire.

Follow Heidi Buck's firsthand account of the situation below...


Fire raging close to Auburn, California: home of the Forest Guards...

100 plus acre fire burning near Mammoth Bar, Auburn, California!

It is 4.06pm, Thursday evening, and I'm listening to the fire planes whizzing past my house. There is smoke all around us and they say it is around 100 plus acres burning... This fire, and the sound of the flames, puts everything in such perspective: how important it is to continue our work with Forest Guard.

It is now 5.15pm and the fire is now 250 plus acres. The authorities have closed Foresthill Road... and one of our own Forest Guards, Aydan, is trapped on Foresthill Road! I went back up the hill to film the planes attacking the blaze. They look so tiny as they approach the massive wall of smoke! These are the true heroes: and the ones on the ground and air, fighting this thing.

The sight of the flames, coming down over the ridge and approaching the road was terrifying! Several other people had stopped and joined our viewing spot, taking photos with their cell phones. One woman was reading the news and reported to the crowd that the Auburn Journal said the fire was up to 450 acres! When she saw the flames, she said she was going home to pack up her car!

Within moments they were up and heading back to the American River to refill their bucket and fight the fire. The next several minutes we watched as the firefighters battled the flames, working it back up toward the ridge. By 6.50pm, when we had to leave, we no longer saw flames and the fire had been pushed to the back side of the ridge.



** All images courtesy of Heidi Buck.
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Lessons learned in England [Jul. 8th, 2009|03:26 pm]
Forest Guard team member Faith writes

We’ve had a really enjoyable week in England and have learned loads working with the Sony engineers to develop our wildfire detection solution. We had a two day workshop at the research and development headquarters and discussed more specific details on the types of CCTV camera we can use and brainstormed ideas about the system’s user interface to make if fun for people as well as practical. We really focused a lot on the website as this will be how the public citizen fire watchers will access our wildfire detection solution.

When we get back home next week, we are going to start scoping out areas to put the first cameras that we are going to test and determine the exact locations for them. We’re also going to be talking to Dr Graham Kent from UCSD who has offered to help us.

After the workshop with Sony, we had a great time exploring some of the sights in England - we went to Windsor castle yesterday which was amazing. We’re going to do some more sightseeing over the weekend and will then be off home on Monday when we will start the next steps on getting the Forest Guard solution up and running.
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Meet the team [Jun. 26th, 2009|02:55 pm]
It's time to meet the Forest Guard team; six kids from America taking the taxing task of battling wildfires with an early warning system.


My name is Alejandro, I'm in 7th grade and 12 years old. Last year, my team went to international, getting first place for programming and engineering. In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, making movies, and more tech stuff.



My name is Andrew, I am twelve and I am in 6th grade. I am into Narnia and I like to play chess and read. My favorite authors are Edith Nesbit and CS Lewis. I also like archery. I like cats (and foxes) and I am a fan of Julius Caesar. I enjoy acting English and Australian. On the team I am a programmer, although I also like to build.



My name is Aydan and I'm in 5th grade this year.


I am 10 years old and going into 5th grade. I really love sports, especially soccer and gymnastics. I'm a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia and Tintin, I like riding my Ripstick.

Hi my name is Bobby, I am in 7th grade. My favorite sport is gymnastics.


My name is Faith. Some of my hobbies and interests are: reading (always a priority!) soccer, tennis, horseback riding, knitting, sewing and, last but not least, robotics.


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Forest Guard: The Movie [Jun. 25th, 2009|06:28 pm]
Six US kids are driving global wildfire detection thinking, overcoming technical as well as legislative barriers which have flummoxed adults, in order to push a detection system prototype through to trial this summer. Watch how this simple idea came about and snowballed to pro bono support from global tech giant Sony electronics.
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