Dryad startup wants to help to stop wildfires with IoT

Dryad Networks is deploying IoT technology to help prevent the devastation caused by wildfires. This year the world had the ongoing wildfire in California that has now set the unwanted record of most acres burned in a single year, the wildfires in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and another of Australia’s bushfires⁠. Each case leaves a trail of destruction in its wake with environmental, social, and economic impacts.

Once a fire grows to a certain size, it can be almost impossible to stop. Dryad wants to help catch fires in that early stage. The company’s network of sensors claims to be able to detect wildfires in under 60 minutes, even in remote locations. Current solutions are typically based on cameras and satellites. They rely on smoke plumes developing enough to be detected – which can take several hours or even days – and is often too late to contain.

Dryad founders Carsten Brinkschulte and Marco Bönig came up with the concept of using IoT sensors to combat wildfires after one which caused devastation in the Amazon rainforest in 2019. Dryad’s solution is based around a gateway which uses a patent-pending distributed mesh architecture that builds on the LoRaWAN standard. These gateways interconnect to cover very large forests. Solar-powered sensors are mounted on trees and use AI technology to detect fires even when they’re in their smouldering stage.

Border gateways are situated at the edge of the network and connect via wireless (LTE/NB-IoT), satellite, or wired internet to relay data to Dryad’s cloud-based dashboard which alerts forest managers to any fires and provides a general overview about what’s happening in the forest. The solution was initially piloted in a forest in Germany back in May. Since then, Dryad says it’s secured letters of intent from ten forest owners in Germany and Africa.

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