Did you know that old phones are being used for tropical rainforest surveillance?

Posted: , posted by Luis D.

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Did you know that old phones are being used for tropical rainforest surveillance?
We all live on the same planet and suffer the global consequences of deforestation. Cutting hectares of forest down is the second largest source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, right after fossil fuel combustion. As a consequence of making forests disappear each year, the world is facing a biodiversity crisis, suffering hundreds of losses in animal and plant species, along with increasingly extreme droughts and floods.

Surprisingly, though, phones can help in battling deforestation, even if they are the kind of product one can hardly slap the "environmentally friendly" tag onto. A noble organisation by the name of Rainforest Connection happily takes our old phones and puts them in charge of guarding the Amazon rainforest! How so? Well, it turns out a band of smartphone bandits given a second chance at life is the simplest, least expensive way of tackling this complex task. Eligible handsets are fit with solar panels for charging, have a custom app installed, and get thrown out in the wild to generate real-time data on deforestation activity!

The application uses the phones' built-in microphones to monitor audio frequencies across a given area and recognize incriminating sounds, such as chainsaw noise. Detected sounds are immediately transmitted to a connected central database while authorities roaming the forest get signaled about the situation. Thanks to our phones, rainforest surveillance becomes a low-cost, crowd-sourced, and scalable endeavor. It's really a thing of beauty!

Best of all, you can actually help out the good people at Rainforest Connection by donating your old phone. Check out their website or Facebook page for more details about that. Moreover, the initiative, which was funded via Kickstarter last year, has promised its backers to start delivering real-time audio streams from the rainforest, and to start generating digital maps of protected areas in the near future. Great stuff!


source: Rainforest Connection

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