Discarded cell phones to help fight rainforest poachers, loggers in real-time
Rainforest Connection (RFCx), a San Francisco-based non-profit startup, is partnering with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to install its real-time anti-deforestation technology at sites in Cameroon. 30 RFCx devices — recycled from old Android handsets — will monitor 10,000 hectares or nearly 40 square miles of rainforest, listening for audio signals associated with logging and poaching. When the whir of a chainsaw, a gunshot, or the sound of a logging truck is detected, the system automatically alerts local authorities who can take action as the environmental crime is being committed.
Rainforest Connection’s system is powered by a network of Android smartphones, each of which is driven by an array of solar panels that are designed for low-light conditions of the rainforest canopy. The units are durable to ensure they can survive hot and humid conditions for years. That durability, combined with the low cost of the units and the increasing ubiquity of mobile networks, means that the potential of the system is vast, according to Rainforest Connection founder Topher White.