By Jean-Christophe Zufferey
Technology and environmentalism aren’t two terms that you normally see in the same sentence. However, when used in the right way, technology could be the key to preserving the planet for generations to come.
Recent developments in technology are helping scientists achieve things which would have been thought impossible just a few years ago. One of the key challenges faced by scientists, for example, is establishing a benchmark of what the world looks like now compared to in the past, so that we can better understand why and how changes are taking place. But tracking these changes, particularly in remote areas, is a time consuming, difficult, and at times a dangerous process.
Drones for example, whilst seen by some as merely toys, are already allowing environmentalists to work more effectively. These aerial imaging aircraft can provide high-resolution geographic data, on demand, and can be launched remotely — allowing scientific researchers to reach regions that were previously considered out of bounds, due to their remoteness or the harshness of the terrain.
Professional drones are already being used in the Himalayas for example, to monitor the rate at which glaciers melt, and to track where and how animals migrate.
As such, the data being gathered by drones is giving us an unprecedented insight into the workings and complexities of our ecosystem, such as how the water cycle – from glaciers to rivers – really works. Insights based on data that in the past was either too low resolution for our needs, or too difficult to capture.
However drones are useful for more than just passively tracking changes in the environment. They are valuable tools for aiding conservation work in real time.
The Australian founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), Damien Mander, has spoken about using drone technology to combat the issue of elephant poachers in Africa. During his recent Ted talk, he spoke of his journey from the Iraq war to conservation. “With drone technology… we are battling each day to bring military solutions to conservation’s thin green line,” he comments. Indeed several African governments, such as that in Kenya, have already consented to drone technology being used in trials across several national parks.
Jean-Christophe is CEO and co-founder at senseFly.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com