Thanks to several ground-breaking technology innovations, Dryad’s large-scale IoT solution uses a network of sensors for ultra-early detection of wildfires in under 60 minutes even in remote areas, prompting a faster response than existing solutions.
By contrast, camera and satellite-based solutions can take several hours or even days to identify a fire because they rely on the smoke plume developing enough to be detected from a long distance. This makes it far more difficult, or even impossible, for fire fighters to contain the outbreak. And emerging solutions based on the NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) standard are not practical for large-scale and remote forests where the cost of building a LTE/4G network is prohibitive.
The idea for a wireless IoT network to connect the natural world was conceived by Brinkschulte and co-founder Marco Bönig when the devastating fires ripped through the Amazon rainforest in 2019. That year, forest fires generated 7.8bn tonnes of CO2 – almost 20% of the annual global emissions from the burning of fossil fuels – while decimating one of the planet’s most important carbon sinks. Wildfires also account for the displacement of tens of thousands of people, approximately $5bn of direct fire-fighting costs and over $100bn of economic damage globally every year.
The team successfully tested a minimum viable product in a forest in Germany in May 2020, and has since secured ten letters of intent from forest owners in Germany and Africa.
The solution comprises:
– Solar-powered sensors that use AI to detect gases emitted in the smoldering stage of a wildfire as well as temperature, humidity and air pressure.
– Gateways featuring Dryad’s patent-pending distributed mesh architecture – an extension to the LoRaWAN open standard for long-range radio IoT networks.
– A cloud-based dashboard to analyze and monitor a wide range of indicators and alert forest managers.
Dryad’s gateways interconnect in a multi-hop mesh network, making it possible to cover very large forests, rather than the real-world 12km range supported by other LoRaWAN gateways. This key technology makes it economically viable to build a communications network for large forests where there is no mobile network coverage. Dryad border gateways at the edge of the network connect to wireless (LTE/NB-IoT), satellite or wired internet to access the Dryad cloud platform.
A commercial business with sustainability and tech for good at its core, Dryad’s vision is to digitize the world’s forests and help protect and regrow the world’s largest carbon sinks. Plans include supporting sustainable forest management by providing forest owners with insights into the health, microclimate and growth of their forests. This will also help them manage their estates more efficiently and profitably.
Dryad is led by co-founder, CEO and serial telco entrepreneur Carsten Brinkschulte, who has a track record in building and exiting high-growth businesses. Brinkschulte scaled mobile core network software startup Core Network Dynamics (CND) and sold it to Twilio in 2018. Previously, he led the turnaround of virtual SIM vendor Movirtu which was sold to BlackBerry in 2014. He also founded AIM-listed mobile messaging pioneer Synchronica in 2004.
The four investors participating in the seed round are: STIHL Digital, the investor arm of the STIHL chainsaw multinational; German energy firm LEAG; impact investor ISAR AG; and the VC firm Brandenburg Kapital.
Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO and co-founder of Dryad Networks, said: “The notion of the intelligent forest is now coming of age. Our vision is to deliver an effective communications architecture for even the most remote forests and make sub one-hour wildfire detection the new reality. Using a solar-powered, distributed mesh IoT network capable of covering vast expanses of forest where mobile network coverage is lacking will radically transform the way forests can be monitored and managed.”
Dr. Tim Gegg, Managing Director at STIHL Digital, one of the investors, added: “We invest in transformational digital startups that share our ambitions. The team at Dryad Networks impressed us with its plans for an innovative IoT platform to digitize forests and help protect the natural world. We are enthusiastic about our role as an early stage investor and collaboration partner.”
Dryad is an environmental IoT startup based in Berlin-Brandenburg. Its mission is to develop a large-scale IoT network that allows public and private forest owners to monitor, analyze and protect the world’s largest, most remote forests. The initial focus is to develop a system for the ultra-early detection of wildfires. Dryad secured seed funding of €1.8million and opened for business in September 2020.
Dryad Networks GmbH