Wildfire detection systems are due for an upgrade
As the average size of wildfires continues to increase, wildfires pose a greater threat to human lives and valuable assets. However, advancements in wildfire detection systems are not moving fast enough to keep up. Many systems still depend on manual inputs from humans which creates too much latency in alerting local governments and firefighters about wildfires.
Robotics Cats, a startup part of the StackPath Propel Program, is using computer vision, artificial intelligence, and robotics technologies to decrease the latency between the start of a fire and the response of local authorities. The startup also created a web app that allows users to report wildfire locations. This user-generated data, often submitted by hikers, is a vital supplement to the data captured by InsightsFD, the camera system that uses visual and infrared sensors to detect wildfires.
Protect user-generated data with a web application firewall
To ensure the validity of data submitted to Robotics Cats from the web app, the engineering team decided to start investigating web application firewalls (WAFs). By implementing a WAF, Robotics Cats could increase the trustworthiness of their service and maintain their growing reputation by defending against spam bot submissions, DDoS attacks, and application-layer attacks. Most importantly, a reliable WAF would protect the data that reduces wildfire scourge and suffering.
Evaluate WAFs based on total cost of ownership
Robotics Cats spent one week performing research on web application firewalls and created test accounts with three providers. StackPath was one of these providers and was evaluated on ease of use and price. As users and advocates of intuitive software, Robotics Cats decided to go with StackPath.
“We evaluated three different WAF solutions and, due to the intuitive user interface, robust one-click features, and low total cost of ownership, we decided to go with StackPath.”
Andre Cheung, CEO & Founder, Robotics Cats
Mitigating wildfire scourge with clean, accurate data
After deciding on StackPath, it only took Robotics Cats one hour to set up the WAF to protect their web app called ReportFires. In addition to implementing one-click features to prevent cross-site scripting and SQL injection, they implemented custom, location-based rules. These rules block unwanted traffic from countries that don’t support the Google Maps API that powers their app and prevent DDoS attacks.
Today, the WAF is enabling ReportFires to support the InsightsFD camera systems to slow the spread of wildfires, especially in Asia where the Robotics Cats team is based. Most recently, ReportFires and InsightsFD were used to provide an early warning to the fire department in Chiang Mai, Thailand. When Andre Cheung received a warning from an InsightsFD camera in Chiang Mai, he notified the local fire department and submitted the location of the wildfire on ReportFires. Hours later, the firefighters told him that the fire was real and had been extinguished.
After this success, Robotics Cats started using other StackPath services like monitoring to improve their visibility of server loads and CDN to reduce page load times for the web app.