The world’s forests are vital ecosystems that provide numerous benefits, from carbon sequestration to biodiversity preservation. However, they are also susceptible to various threats, including wildfires.
Recent years have seen the proliferation of IoT technology across many industries and use-cases. Having conquered the smart home and industrial automation, and making great strides in healthcare, agriculture and energy management, IoT is now beginning to be leveraged in the forest.
IoT has emerged as a powerful tool for monitoring and protecting forests, and companies are increasingly leveraging IoT to transform forest monitoring and wildfire detection, offering new hope in safeguarding our precious natural resources.
The need for advanced forest monitoring
Traditional forest monitoring methods, such as ground patrols and satellite imagery, have limitations in terms of coverage, real-time data collection, and early detection of threats. With the advent of IoT, however, a new era of forest monitoring has emerged.
IoT enables the deployment of sensor networks throughout forests, providing real-time data on crucial parameters like temperature, humidity, and air quality. This data can be analysed and used to detect potential threats, such as wildfires, insect infestations, or illegal activities.
The wildfire threat
Wildfires pose a significant and urgent threat to global forests, capable of rapidly devastating vast areas. These destructive events not only release millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but also result in the loss of countless animal and insect species. The long-term health impacts of smoke and haze exposure are still being studied, but research to date paints a worrying picture. Furthermore, wildfires severely damage the world’s carbon sink, hindering its ability to effectively sequester carbon in the future.
With the exacerbation of wildfires due to climate change, it is evident that traditional methods of wildfire detection are inadequate to address this escalating problem. While cameras, satellites, and watchtowers are not without merit, their primary limitation lies in their detection speed. In critical situations where every minute counts, these approaches prove insufficient in promptly raising the alarm and initiating a rapid response.
IoT to the rescue?
This is where advancements in IoT technology might have the answer. IoT-based wildfire detection systems employ a network of interconnected sensors placed strategically in forested areas. These sensors continuously monitor environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, and air quality. The real-time data collected by these sensors is then transmitted to a central monitoring system. Advanced algorithms analyse the data, allowing for the detection of anomalies or patterns that may indicate the presence of a wildfire.
This early detection enables faster response times, allowing firefighting agencies to mobilise resources and deploy firefighters to the precise location of the fire, increasing the chances of successful containment.
With wildfires accounting for up 20% of global CO2 emissions, successful containment could truly be a game-changer in the fight against climate change. Sensors placed in the forest offer much-needed hope when it comes to all-important detection speeds.
IoT technology is revolutionising wildfire detection by offering real-time data, early warnings, and enhanced situational awareness. With its ability to rapidly detect wildfires and provide critical information to response teams, IoT is playing a vital role in minimising the devastating impact of wildfires on ecosystems, human lives, and valuable resources.
Ben Jones is the marketing lead at Dryad Networks, a Berlin-based startup that develops technology to monitor forests and detect wildfires using IoT. He is passionate about greentech, climate change and sustainability.