Introducing a new program–the Iot or Internet of connected trees…

The internet of trees. Yes, trees with attitude. They are watching you. Not just in the forest oh no. Everywhere you go they are there watching you. The Iot with a lower case t. There are a number of things you would want to know from a tree. What is the air quality roughly about where the tree is standing? They (trees) don’t often get up and move around. So they represent really good barometers of what is going on where they are.

It started out as a joke but then I started wondering. What sensors would you put on a tree and why would you do that? First off you would probably want a sensor that tracked the moisture in the soil. A tree in the city is normally in a small box. Where when not in the city it has a lot of area to place roots to gather water and nutrients. In the city it is a much more confined area. So you want to know the moisture content of the soil.

You would want to know the air quality around the tree as well. Trees like a higher Co2 content than human beings do. That is something to watch for. You also want to track the air quality beyond Co2 to include other particulates and pollutants that float around in the air. Interesting fact things that cause trees to not like where they are can also cause people to feel uncomfortable and sick.

The data produced would be shared for each block the trees were on the city. In the country you would share a specific park’s trees. One of my personal favorite parks years ago was Brown County State Park in Indiana. I could hop on their web site and ascertain the quality of the air in the forest before heading that way for a hike. The same is true for my new favorite Great Seneca State Park in Maryland. For that one I would also like to know the density of people in the park any particular day.

It is interesting the Internet of trees. In the city you can quickly find out information about any street that wouldn’t be risky for anyone to have shared. You would know what the status was of your favorite park (what is the temperature in the shade, what is the air quality, how many people are in the park today?)

There could even be a free tree channel on the various streaming media systems. “Good morning and welcome to Tree POV, today we hear the sounds of a gentle breeze amidst the tops of trees. The rustling of leaves and the chattering of squirrels. Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow as we recast one of our most popular broadcasts, the sound of a Thunder Storm.” You could stream video of the rustling streams with the sound to make it really interesting. Stuck in a windowless office, no problem pipe the sound of trees into your office.

You could even raise money for state, local and national parks but having people adopt a tree. You then stream images of the tree they have adopted (or any tree for that matter, most of them look the same without leaves. You can to know the various types of leaves to tell the difference once they have leaves). You could even place an LED whiteboard on the tree carefully so that people won’t carve their initials into the tree. They write on the LED board and the world will forever see that Jonny loves Susie. Or Bill loves Emma. Even though Jonny is with Emma now and Bill is off with someone not even listed on the tree.

It makes me wonder if the Internet of trees (Iot) would in fact connect people more to the environment they live in. Knowing that your tree isn’t doing well might make a difference? Would you care about my tree if it was your tree?

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.