Protecting Rainforests with Bio—Acoustics and Big Data
Every two seconds, an area of rainforest the size of a football field is destroyed. It’s causing the extinction of hundreds of animal and plant species every year, contributing to droughts and threatening indigenous reserves. Deforestation also accounts for 10%1 of all worldwide carbon emissions, making it a massive factor in global warming.
“With up to 90% of logging in tropical rainforests classified as illegal, we’re helping teams on the ground take action,” explains Topher White, CEO and Founder at Rainforest Connection. “We’re committed to using bio — acoustics, big data analytics and cloud computing to help protect the world’s rainforests.”
Using mobile technology in treetops, known as ’guardians’, Rainforest Connection is listening in to the forest to identify logging activity. Audio data is uploaded to the cloud, where it is analyzed for sounds of gun shots, chainsaws and trucks. These noises trigger alerts to teams of local rangers, so they can go and investigate.
The organization has been providing rangers with real — time acoustic information since 2013, but rangers often arrive too late to prevent the damage being done. “We wanted to get more predictive,” says White. “It’s not just about predicting what might happen in the future, but also understanding what might be happening right now that we can’t explicitly hear. For example, a hunter might not make a sound, but we can identify the movement of animals and birds in response to the threat. We recognized that with advanced analytics capabilities, we might be able to provide on — the — ground teams with a better warning system and longer lead times.”
With thousands of devices streaming data to the cloud, Rainforest Connection also needs an infrastructure capable of processing large volumes of data in real time. As a not — for — profit, the organization is heavily reliant on grants and charitable donations, including services from major tech companies. To make the most of the resources available, its IT environment must be scalable, agile and platform — agnostic so it can move between different cloud providers.