January 21, 2022
Avnet Silica, an Avnet company, announced details of its work with an innovative start-up that uses an advanced IoT network to help prevent the spread of wildfires across the globe.
Given the potential size of a forest and the lack of infrastructure within it, the challenge is enormous to detect the early stages of a wildfire.
Dryad is a Berlin-based company that solved the problem by developing advanced sensor nodes and highly distributed network technology. Designed to overcome constraints such as lack of electricity and connectivity in forests, its Silvanet solution consists of three hardware elements; a proprietary RF network that extends the reach of the low power, low data rate LoRaWAN communication protocol; and a cloud analytics platform.
The first element is the solar-powered Silvanet Wildfire Sensor Node, which measures standard environmental conditions, including concentrations of various gases. It uses a low-power microcontroller that incorporates LoRaWAN support and machine learning processing. These devices connect to solar-powered Silvanet Mesh gateways. Importantly, Dryad has extended the typical LoRaWAN network via proprietary technology to link gateways and form a mesh of star networks, which together can reach deep into a forest.
These two elements create an “Internet of Trees” that reaches the Internet through the Silvanet Border Gateway, which can be placed at the edge of the forest and acts as a LoRa gateway and implements 4G or 2G/GPRS connectivity if required. The final element is the Silvanet Cloud platform, which provides a complete solution for wildfire detection and monitoring. The platform can group detection devices and gateways either by geographic area or by characteristics.
The forest environment presents a huge challenge for implementation. For example, the system should use supercapacitors to power the sensors rather than using potentially toxic and flammable rechargeable batteries. And, in addition to hardware, which must be produced at the lowest possible cost to enable large-scale deployment while being robust enough to ensure long lifespans, firmware development is also required for data analysis. limited energy, live update support, IoT security and LoRaWAN standards compliance. All this must be achieved with equipment operating at low power with solar panels often in the shade. Additionally, RF communications are a challenge because every tree is an obstruction that absorbs radio waves.
Dryad has worked closely with Avnet Silica to explore its component options that can meet these tough challenges. “Avnet Silica has been a close ally in developing the Silvanet solution,” said Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Dryad. “They helped us select the right ultra-low-power components, such as the MCU sensor node that integrates the LoRa radio, but also has enough processing capacity to analyze sensor data with enough sophistication to detect wildfires at an early stage. Additionally, Avnet helped us understand supply constraints for various parts, caused by supply chain issues ranging from pandemic to factory fires, ensuring that that we choose components available in sufficient quantity for the deployment of sensors and gateways in large volume.
“As you go to market and deploy your network with increasing quantities, it becomes absolutely crucial that all microcontrollers and other parts are delivered on time,” said Ingo Seehagen, Principal Field Applications Engineer at Avnet Silica. . “We are currently working with Dryad to research potential design optimizations with even less powerful and lower cost devices.”
Dryad also believes forest fire detection is just the first application of its innovative IoT technology. Once a Silvanet infrastructure is in place, it could monitor other aspects of forestry such as soil moisture, tree growth, sap flow and even illegal logging, as well as enable the air and water quality monitoring over large areas.
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