Forests protect the earth’s delicate ecological balance and are remarkable carbon sinks. Wildfires, that consume forests, have been occurring on Earth since ages, but of late the frequency and amplitude of these occurrences have drastically increased. The wildfires in California have burned more than 4M acres (1.6 million hectares) in 2020. According to a report, this year, as of October 1, 2020, over 44,000 wildfires have burned nearly 7.7 million acres in the US. Also, the Amazonian wildfires of 2019 cannot be forgotten.
Forest fire is, therefore, one of the important and prevalent types of disasters that need to be addressed as soon as possible. These events not only contribute to air pollution but also cause a great imbalance disturbing the biodiversity, the ecology, and the environment of a region.
Early detection is the key
One key method of preventing forest fires from getting out of control is early detection. Detecting the wildfire earlier enables a rapid response to minimise the spread. However, the problem, in this case, is that forests are usually in remote, unmanaged areas filled with trees, parched wood, and dried leaves that are combustible. To fight out the forest fires, different solutions from various startups across the world are being employed throughout the years. One such startup is Dryad.
Environmental IoT startup raised €1.8M
Dryad, a startup based in Berlin-Brandenburg is developing a large-scale IoT network that allows public and private forest owners to monitor, analyse, and protect the world’s largest, most remote forests.
Recently, the environmental IoT startup has secured seed funding of €1.8M to develop a large-scale IoT network for the ultra-early detection of wildfires under 60 minutes.
The four investors participating in the seed round are STIHL Digital, the corporate venture arm of the STIHL Group; German energy firm LEAG; impact investor ISAR AG; and the VC firm Brandenburg Kapital, a subsidiary of Brandenburger Förderbank ILB.
Digitising forest for more efficiency
The German company’s vision is to digitise the forest and help protect and regrow the world’s largest carbon sinks. The solution includes insights into the health, micro-climate, and growth of their forests to manage forests more efficiently and profitably.
The Dryad Networks solution comprises of Solar-powered sensors using AI (To detect gases emitted from wildfires as well as temperature, humidity, and air pressure), Patent-pending distributed mesh network architecture (an extension to the LoRaWAN open standard for long-range radio IoT networks), and a cloud-based dashboard to analyse and monitor various factors and alert forest managers.
Covers vast area even without mobile network
Unlike existing LoRaWAN gateways which cover just 12km, Dryad’s gateways interconnect in a multi-hop mesh network that covers very large forests, making it viable to build a communications network, even if there is no mobile network. Dryad border gateways at the edge of the network connect to a wireless (LTE/NB-IoT), satellite, or wired internet to access the Dryad cloud platform.
The idea for Dryad Networks was conceived by Brinkschulte and co-founder Marco Bönig when the devastating fires ripped through the Amazon rainforest in 2019. It’s worth mentioning that the team successfully tested a minimum viable product in a forest in Germany in May 2020, and has since secured ten letters of intent from forest owners in Germany and Africa.
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