RFCx using recycled phones to guard the rainforest

Image credit: RFCx

I had great pleasure in chairing the HUAWEI CLOUD Singapore summit, that took place in Singapore on 24-25 April. The event attracted more than 2,000 customers, partners and industry academics from Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region to share and discuss innovative products and intelligent practices from fields such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and big data.

One of the highlight presentations came from Bourhan Yassin, the COO of Rainforest Connection (RFCx), titled “Guardians of the Forest: AI Powered Recycled CellPhones.” Yassin said: “With the help of Huawei Cloud AI, we are creating the world’s largest soundscape of remote forest capable of detecting multiple calls within endangered species critical to the eco-system: Spider Monkey, Howler Monkey, Amazon Parrot, Orangutan Macaw, Leopard and more…”

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) was founded in 2014 by ITER physicist and software engineer Topher White, Rainforest Connection has ten projects in USA, Peru, Costa Rica, Romania, Bolivia, Brazil, Indonesia, Ecuador and Cameroon etc.

RFCx is working with a complex set of technologies to help protect the rainforest. RFCx creates solar powered audio monitoring systems called Guardians. These Guardians use old Huawei cellphones as the heart of their system. With help from the Cloud and telco towers, a call is being made every second of the day to AI equipped servers that monitor the dense and complex sounds of the rainforest in pouring rain, blistering sun and dripping humidity. If any illegal sounds are heard, such as chainsaws or trucks, rangers are notified in real-time and sent the location for further investigation. RFCx and Huawei are now using their partnership and ecosystem of AI technology to better understand animal sounds in the rainforest—leading to some much-needed help for several endangered species.


The first challenge is how to collect and transmit sound data in an environment of high temperature, high humidity and no fixed power supply, and store and manage this huge and growing data on the back-end platform safely and efficiently. Second is how to make real-time and rapid analysis of these data and accurately tell the location where the logging was carried out. The sounds in the rainforest are complicated and the data is huge. Therefore, a high-precision recognition algorithm is needed to realize the automatic recognition of the fraud.

Right now, Huawei and RFCx are working together to develop an innovative platform that includes equipment collection, storage services, and intelligent analytics. The equipment collection comes from the upgrade of Huawei’s old mobile phones. They can work around the clock for two years, collecting sound data and uploading it to the cloud in real-time. And then Huawei’s powerful big data service is used to store and manage the audio data collected from various collection points.

At the same time, Huawei has begun to cooperate with RFCx to develop a more accurate intelligent algorithm model based on Huawei’s advanced artificial intelligence service (HUAWEI CLOUD AI) and tools (ModelArts) to achieve more accurate identification of chainsaw noises and truck sounds. In addition, Huawei is helping RFCx build intelligent models that detect and analyze spider monkeys’ sounds, providing information about their habitat, threatened information, and even life habits, helping foresters protect endangered species.

RFCx is currently using Huawei phones to protect over 2500 square kilometers of land (around 200,000 football stadiums). RFCx is also using Huawei’s Cloud offering to upload data. Furthermore, Huawei’s AI team have completed their first voice detection model, which has been tested successfully and shows a vast improvement in accuracy over RFCX’s previous model.

More information available here.

Related link here: The Ultimate Guide to Help Prevent Deforestation

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