The Internet of trees

2nd March 2016

Almost everything is becoming sensor-laden and connected, even nature. How can your organization benefit? By David Watch – Computerworld

I recently connected with the CEO of a fascinating company based in Cork, Ireland, called Treemetrics. Its mission is to eliminate waste in the logging industry by moving beyond antiquated forest survey methods and other problems caused by a lack of good information. By applying data analytics technology to this sector, the company claims to be able to reduce wastage by up to 20%.

To make this work, Treemetrics has to extract data from exotic sensing systems such as 3D laser mapping to obtain stem volume and taper information, which tells a lot about the size, type and health of tree groupings. It’s pretty cool and leaps beyond where the forestry industry has been for literally hundreds of years in terms of harvesting efficiency.

Seeing the forest for the trees

Most intriguing about what Treemetrics and many other firms are doing is the potential for cross-correlation between sensor data sets that at first glance don’t appear to have anything to do with each other.

For example, automakers are starting to consider the use of vehicle-generated data streams to inform external constituents. Given that the typical modern car has to sample outside air temperature and barometric pressure in order to efficiently control fuel mixtures, that data coupled with geolocation could produce highly accurate meteorological maps that provide pinpoint information in near real time.

Similarly, seeing the instances where vehicles suddenly come to a stop or swerve might alert a traffic management operator or image analyzer to look at a camera in that location, to determine if a pothole has formed or if some obstacle is blocking the roadway. That data is there, as it’s required to operate traction control and anti-lock braking systems. It’s just a matter of anonymizing it and sending it to the right recipients.