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  • We have to climb up these trees to save them.

  • It's easily 150-200 feet up the tree.

  • At the top, we listen to all sounds of the forest to pick up the sounds of illegal logging.

  • Illegal logging is an extremely profitable business, it is the most profitable way to

  • extract resources from the forest, there's many, many 10s of billions of dollars that

  • are made every year by organizations extracting illegal wood, very very valuable wood from

  • the forest.

  • The destruction of forests leads to more carbon output than all the cars, trucks,

  • trains, ships, planes combined.

  • Of course the species that are there are very important too.

  • The impact of the illegal logging and deforestation is very different in different places, but

  • it's very, very rare that logging actually helps a local community in any sort of long

  • term sense, whether it be Indonesia, or Africa or South America.

  • Every time logging comes in, the forest disappears, there's a loss of livelihood.

  • There's a loss of rain and water.

  • There's a loss of, you know, food supplies, and also anytime that there's a lack of law

  • and order and place where illegal logging is able to generally thrive is not a good sign.

  • This all kind of began in 2011 when I visited the rainforests of Borneo for the first time,

  • to volunteer at a gibbon reserve in Indonesia.

  • And while we were there, we kind of noticed that they had these guards, these three guards

  • whose job was to help protect this small reserve from illegal logging.

  • And in fact there was lots of illegal logging happening on the outskirts all the time.

  • While there, we realized that these guards are having to walk through the forest and to sort

  • of find the loggers.

  • And my background in technology and physics kind of made me feel like I had to be able

  • to build a tool that could help them find the loggers more quickly, and react.

  • When people think about how to monitor a place. we often think of it visually, because you

  • know we're visual creatures, but when you're in the forest you realize that so much of

  • the sound really is the essence of those there.

  • You can't see more than 20 feet in front of you because there's trees, it's dark.

  • But you can hear things happening just miles away.

  • There's the sound of gibbons, the sounds of birds, the sounds of insects. It's all just deafening.

  • There's just this constant cacophony of noise.

  • And when you're there that sort of informs you have what's happening in the forest.

  • You can't see a chainsaw that's happening a mile away but you can hear the sounds they

  • travel very well from the trees.

  • It was really kind of almost biomimicry to say, how are the animals themselves making

  • themselves known how are they communicating? It's with sound.

  • That could be a way by which we can pick out the sounds of threats as well.

  • I had some old phones I figured I could sort of hack them together to listen to the sound

  • of the forest and pick up the sounds of chainsaws to send alerts to these people so they can

  • actually get there in time.

  • So the Rainforest Connection system, the RFCS platform, really is a full sort of end-to-end type solution.

  • It all begins we'll probably call a Guardian, which are ostensibly phones and boxes up

  • in the treetops.

  • So this is the Rainforest Connection Guardian.

  • Of course you have this enclosure on the outside, you have a microphone.

  • It's a very powerful microphone.

  • It allows us to pick up sounds very, very far away.

  • On the inside, here's some batteries actually that helps us harness all the solar power.

  • We have solar panels so they can last for years, they charge themselves in the daytime and

  • they run 24 hours a day.

  • And then of course they have attachments for external antennas we can pick up cell phone

  • service from many, many miles away.

  • They capture all the sound of the forest, they package it up and send it up to the cloud

  • in real time over the cellphone network.

  • So, once it's in the cloud, we can run any number of artificial intelligence models on

  • it.

  • You pick up chainsaws gunshots, trucks, and then in real time we can take those alerts

  • and send the right back to people on the ground through the software that we built, called the Ranger App

  • into these web dashboards.

  • So local people, they're able to get these alerts, collaborate through the software, and show

  • up in real time if they can to stop the activity.

  • We think that real time response is potentially the key to de-escalating these events.

  • What often keeps people from stopping these activities is the danger involved.

  • But if you can stop the truck on the way in,

  • you don't necessarily need to confiscate the truck, you don't necessarily need to arrest

  • anybody you can turn it around and ship it out.

  • The same is true in many cases if you stopped them just when they're beginning to cut a

  • tree or cut only one.

  • Phones from 11 years ago, 2008, 2009, they still can do so much.

  • This phone here it has GPS, it's got accelerometers, it can tell you where it's positioned it can

  • record all the sound, it can connect to all these cell phone networks, it can compress

  • audio extremely well, it can send it all up to the cloud.

  • This is an amazing little Internet of Things computer.

  • The only way to protect the natural world, is to get the rest of humanity to care about it.

  • I think the sound of our living planet might be the most powerful vector for me to protect it.

  • And the only way to do that is to get many thousands of these sensors out there 10s of

  • thousands of Guardians around the world streaming all the time making that data available to

  • scientists, enthusiasts, bird watchers, students through accessible and easy platforms.

  • I believe at this point in time where we have these amazing networks around the world.

  • We have a system like ours that can record and capture stuff from

  • the cloud. We have cloud computing to be able to look at,

  • big data sets that really pull things out.

  • And we have AI, all these things coming together, I think, is really a turning point potentially

  • where sound becomes one of the most important ways for us to study and protect nature.

We have to climb up these trees to save them.

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B1 logging forest illegal sound cloud real time

How Old Cell Phones Are Protecting the Rainforest

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/23
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