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Kickstarter Campaign Uses Your Old CellPhone to Save The Rainforest and Reduce E-waste


RFCx_repurpose-537x358Just a quick glance through the list of campaigns on the Kickstarter website is enough to make you realize which ones have an incredible potential and which ones are just a waste of time.

Although quite a number of them are specifically dedicated to protecting the environment, either by launching the latest super cool green tech, or the next best humanitarian project, very few of them actually attract our attention and make us tell you about them. The initiative by Rainforest Connection (RFCx), is one of these that definitely cannot pass by unnoticed.

The reason behind this is that it addresses not one, but two highly relevant issues- illegal cutting of rainforests, and disposal of old cellphones. The idea is, instead of throwing the gadgets away, they can be placed as monitoring devices on trees, and send real-time signal to forest authorities.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, real time monitoring with satellites is not possible. A very popular term nowadays is near-real-time imagery, but the truth is, every image that reaches us is already a few days old, which is not very near-real. For many applications, such as monitoring of long term environmental changes or establishing climate patterns, this does not make a huge difference. What is more, many remote areas, such as the world’s rainforests, are incredibly difficult or even impossible to access, therefore the only mean to observe what happens there is through air- or space-borne sensors. However, when it comes to monitoring of daily spread of oil spills, or illegal cutting of trees, where immediate reaction by the authorities is needed, satellite imagery fails.

And this is where the new Kickstarter campaign comes in. The guys of RFCx, together with the Zoological Society of London, propose that old and unwanted cellphones, powered by solar, are used as a telecommunication system, sending noise signals to forest authorities. A highly sensitive listening devices can analyse the sounds and send alerts when they detect cutting or falling of trees, gunshots, or animal distress, allowing immediate response.

The pilot system is to be placed in Cameroon later on this year, where cellphones with solar power source attached to them, will be fitted on trees. To do this, however, the two partners need to raise $100,000 in order to be able to install enough devices to cover the bare minimum of 300 sq km of forest, and add the missing piece  that represents real-time monitoring to the puzzle.

There are only a few days left until the end of the campaign (29th of July, 2014), so if you feel like making a difference, do click here.  Alternatively, you can bring your old and unwanted cell phone to them as a donation instead of sending it in a landfill site. Anything you decide to do, will contribute to a massive cause.

Image (c) RFCx


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