Long after a FLL season has ended, and team members have moved on to new challenges – a project idea can continue on its own path.
Dr. Graham and the first Forest Eye camera

Recently, I visited with Dr. Graham Kent (University of Nevada-Reno) for an update on the Forest Eye camera system. This system was based on the Lego Guard’s Climate Connection Project: Forest Guard.

Since I have been involved with this project from the beginning, I really wanted to catch up on what’s been happening. Dr. Kent was kind enough to give me some time, show me the camera system and fill me in on the progress.

As great as some ideas might be, politics and paperwork can often slow things down. Such is the case with the Forest Eye cameras. Luckily, as Dr. Kent noted, another fire season has passed with no major catastrophes in the Tahoe Basin.

SONY had shipped one Forest Eye camera to UNR last November (right before the COP 15 World Climate Conference in Denmark), and Dr. Kent and crew set it up at a facility in Incline Village. Unfortunately, the prototype software stopped working a couple of months later, and the camera was moved back to UNR.  Over the summer, SONY Europe sent the 3 additional cameras that they had built for the system to UNR.

Dr. Graham Kent (UNR) - with the 3 newest Forest Eye cameras shipped from SONY-Europe.

Dr. Kent’s goal is to get the Forest Eye camera past a prototype to a camera system that will work long term in fire defense. The first step will be to obtain permits to set up 1 camera permanently, at a location overlooking Lake Tahoe. The next step would be to update the software to production level.  Next, would be to set up the remaining cameras in their own permanent locations to create a network ring around the lake. With luck, and a lot of hard work, this will happen before the next fire season rolls around.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is that a great project idea CAN turn into something much bigger:  sometimes it just takes a bit of time.

Dr. Graham shows me one of the camera's antenna.