How Internet devices are working to save the rainforest

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Gemalto, based in Amsterdam, develops digital security systems and network security. Gemalto's solutions sales manager for M2M, Lakhi Baug, talks about how machine-to-machine (M2M) communication systems are used to preserve rainforests and why they are better than traditional satellite surveillance and radio monitoring.

Tell us about machine to machine (M2M) communication systems and how authorities in Brazil are using it to preserve the Amazon rainforest?

To prevent illegal logging in the Amazon, Gemalto and Cargo Tracck have developed a discreet tracking device that uses Gemalto's tiny and powerful Cinterion BGS2 M2M module to enable cellular communications between trees and Brazil's law enforcement agencies.

Lakhi Baug
Lakhi Baug

Smaller than a deck of cards for inconspicuous deployment, the tracking device is camouflaged in a resin case that is made to blend in with tree trunks and installed in remote active harvesting areas deep in the jungle. With a sophisticated power management system that vastly improves power efficiency, the M2M modules in the tracking device can remain active in the field for about a year without being recharged. The devices are also rugged enough to operate reliably in rainforest heat and moisture, while being powerful enough to track trees through remote and dense forests.

The moment a tagged tree is harvested, officials from the Brazilian Institute of Environment are immediately notified by the tracking device. Cutting-edge geo-location algorithms allow precise tracking with unprecedented accuracy, as location data is transmitted the moment harvested trees pass within 20 miles of a cellular network. This allows officials to remotely track trees and intercept illegal loggers in the act of selling timber at sawmills, which ultimately leads to quicker prosecution to stop illegal activities and preserve the rain forest.

What is Invisible Tracck and how did it come into being? Was this solution especially created/devised for a client?

Invisible Tracck is the name of the wireless device that was developed by Gemalto and our partner Cargo Tracck, as part of a pilot program to thwart illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

The solution leverages the built-in capabilities of the Cinterion BGS2 M2M module with advanced power management and its robustness being put to good use in the harsh environment of the Amazon rainforest.

The device is meant as a supplement to traditional satellite surveillance and radio monitoring systems that typically provide information only on long term deforestation patterns rather than real-time tracking.

How is M2M communications better than traditional satellite surveillance and radio monitoring? Can it be used in India's Naxal/Maoist infested areas where authorities have failed to pick up intelligence with video surveillance?

Satellite surveillance and radio monitoring has been traditionally deployed to protect a massive area, but this method tracks deforestation based on long term patterns. To get around this, illegal loggers have abandoned clear-cutting for stealthy new logging strategies that target small tracks of the most prized trees, which renders them almost undetectable.

In contrast, the M2M-powered Invisible Tracck solution is able to monitor individual trees and detect whether or not they are being logged. It adequately counters these new tactics being used by illegal loggers. To overcome the fact that the rainforest spans such a wide area, Radiation Data Exchange (RED) technology is used to boost the range of wireless communications to cover even extremely remote areas that lack mobile network coverage.

As the nature of monitoring, and the requirements, differ across use cases, it is difficult for us to comment on whether M2M communications could work in place of video surveillance. However, Gemalto M2M solutions are also used to power video surveillance systems.

Invisible Tracck is powered by Gemalto's Cinterion M2M solution. Is there anything else that Gemalto is doing in M2M communications?

Gemalto's M2M communications portfolio is enabling solutions across a wide variety of industries, ranging from healthcare, retail services, smart energy, and automotive. For example, Gemalto's Cinterion range of automotive-grade M2M technology is providing 4G connectivity for Audi's industry-first, embedded LTE infotainment system, providing enhanced services that will enrich the mobile lifestyle of both drivers and their passengers. For the Oil and Gas sector, Gemalto is working with UAE's integrated telecommunications service provider du to deploy M2M solutions that will assist with the management of hard-to-reach O&G meters to ensure effective maintenance.

gemalto logo

But beyond that, we're also looking into areas such as transportation and logistics, as well as smart grids, which will all be able to leverage on M2M for better service delivery and improve efficiency. In transport and logistics, M2M technology makes it possible to track down and trace vehicles, goods shipments, and mobile resources, thus improving the efficiency of the entire supply chain. For smart grids, M2M can make business processes more efficient, productive and cost-effective by adding remote metering capabilities.

This story, "How Internet devices are working to save the rainforest" was originally published by MIS Asia.

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