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Lebanon conserves forests with new ‘smart forest’ initiative

The Cedar International Festival has launched a new Smart Forest solution in collaboration with Eurisko Mobility which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and protect seven forests in Lebanon.

The initiative, worth $700,000, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2020.

It to cover other forests within the country amid a severe crisis. The seven sites where the tech will be deployed at are:

·         The Cedars of God, Bcharre

·         Sfire forest, Dannieh

·         Jabal Moussa natural reserve, Kesserwan

·         Mtein forests, Matn

·         Forests near Al Chouf natural reserve, Al Chouf

·         Debbieh forest, Al Chouf

·         Arnoun natural reserve, Nabatieh

The forests of the country have been severely affected by a number of climate-change related issues, some of which include forest coverage shrinking due to insect infestation and devastating wildfires amid unfavorable weather conditions.

The smart forest solution developed by Lebanon-based company, Eurisko Mobility, uses emerging tech such as AI and machine learning (ML) to gain greater insight into the natural characteristics that are specific to each forest. The initiative involves using the data collected to predict any impending natural disasters from taking place, namely those which are brought about by non-natural factors.

Ziad Tawk, CTO and Co-founder of Eurisko Mobility, stated, “Being weather-proof, cost and energy efficient, environment-friendly, IoT is the perfect technology for monitoring real-time metrics. Combined with the power of AI and Machine Learning, such systems can protect our different natural resources by providing prevention and real-time alerting.”

An interactive dashboard, which is essentially powered by this technology, provides a comparison of historical metrics through which data relating to air and soil temperature, CO2 levels, humidity levels, wind speed and atmospheric pressure, are consistently generated in real time.

Following this procedure, once a risk is identified, automatic alerts are triggered via SMS, emails and automated phone calls to inform civil defense organizations, NGOs and all relevant parties, to take action.

 “Traditional solutions are becoming obsolete as they are built on static mathematical formulas, exclude the specific natural characteristics of the forest in question, and provide fluctuating prediction accuracy when applied to different types of forests in different areas of the world,” read a statement from Eurisko Mobility.

Adding that, “For this country-wide scale project, a clear route has been set: data collection, preparation and processing to select optimal AI/machine learning models for each forest [and] a centralized system linking all forests together.”

As each of the seven sites differ in terms of soil type, climate and altitude, the technology will take into account the varying factors. The Deep Machine Learning and AI-powered engine will predict the Risk Index as it is trained to be seamless and fully operated and is trained using artificial neural networks through which data is collected.

“Unsupervised Machine Learning can allow learning the specific natural characteristics of each forest even with the dynamicity of climate change,” said Tawk.

This move will seek to develop Lebanon’s ecotourism industry and encourage visitors to the Cedars nature reserve.

The initiative comes as the country has been struck by devastating wildfires which absolutely ravaged Lebanon during October 2019.

“Eurisko Mobility is studying, how many sensors are needed, its gathering of historical data in order to train the Machine Learning models, deploying sensors & testing the system in real-life by emulating bush fires in each forest,” he said.