Tracking trees: How M2M is being used to prevent deforestation in Brazil

The internet of things already connects appliances like refrigerators and ice machines and every manner of wearable quantified-self gadget. But even this use-case caught us by surprise: the internet of things now includes trees.

Brazilian location-services company Cargo Tracck is working with the Brazilian environmental protection authorities and carriers to stop deforestation in the Amazon through the tracking of individual trees. By embedding Gemalto machine-to-machine (M2M) radio modules into specially designed logging monitors, Cargo Tracck is able to detect if trees are being chopped down and moved.

It’s a unique approach to M2M because it requires monitoring devices in areas where cellular networks usually don’t reach — the depths of the rainforest. The genius of Cargo Tracck’s system though is that in an ideal situation the monitoring devices will never have to transmit.

If the protected trees remain undisturbed, the modules would just hang unmolested in the forest canopy. But if the tree were cut down and trucked to an illegal sawmill, the monitor would notify the authorities as soon as it got within range of a cellular network. Gemalto’s newest low-power M2M modules use radiation exchange data tracking technologies that can extend its range 20 miles, so they can transmit their coordinates even if illegal loggers are skirting cities and highways.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user .curt.