Topher White: What can save the rainforest? Your used cell phone
Topher White - Conservation technologist
Through his startup Rainforest Connection, Topher White transforms used cell phones into guardians of the rainforest. Full bio
as a tourist,
for the very first time,
of the forest that struck me the most.
a rhinoceros hornbill.
over a great distance.
was in fact a gibbon reserve,
was coming out of the forest that time
had actually noticed it.
to spend a lot of their time
that takes place on the side.
the insects, and the rest,
in recordings you heard,
at great distance.
who were posted around this sanctuary
to guard against illegal logging,
again as tourists, out into the forest,
who was just sawing a tree down,
from the ranger station.
to hear the chainsaws,
the forest is very, very loud.
that in this modern time,
from a ranger station in a sanctuary,
someone who has a chainsaw gets fired up.
but in fact, it was quite true.
always to come up with a high-tech,
it has to be scalable,
while were there was that
that would allow us to stop this
already in the forest?
dedicated, three full-time guards,
what was happening out in the forest.
out in the forest.
way out in the middle of nowhere.
from the nearest road,
but they had very good cell phone service,
were on Facebook all the time,
that in fact it would be possible
of chainsaws programmatically,
to go up in the trees.
to listen to the sounds of the forest,
network that's there,
to this issue for them.
to talk about saving the rainforest,
definitely all heard about forever.
have heard about saving the rainforest
has never changed:
it's super urgent,
have been destroyed yesterday.
about half of the rainforest remains,
problems like climate change.
that I didn't realize at the time:
for more greenhouse gas
trains, cars, trucks and ships combined.
to climate change.
that takes place in the rainforest
like the illegal logging that we saw.
enforce the rules that are there,
into this 17 percent
in the short term.
fastest way to fight climate change.
is heard in the forest,
of the chainsaw,
GSM network that's already there
and stop the logging.
and finding a tree that's been cut.
a tree from a satellite
and fastest way to do it,
they weren't able to do it,
were actually cell phones,
by the hundreds of millions every year,
which of course we should do,
to the sounds of the forest.
that you see here,
under a tree canopy,
under a tree canopy,
solar panel design that you see here,
byproducts of an industrial process.
for allowing me to do that.
this is a device up in a tree.
is that they are pretty well obscured
they are able to hear chainsaw noises
about three square kilometers,
it would make the area unprotected.
we took it back to Indonesia,
by illegal logging.
illegal chainsaw noises.
Everyone had just gotten back down.
and they all quiet down,
until that moment.
to actually stop these loggers.
arrived close to where the loggers are.
where I'm actually regretting
the other side of this hill.
been interrupted before --
event for them,
they have not been back since.
the entire operation works,
on the spot was that
in real time and stop people,
they won't come back.
because we told a lot of people,
amazing stuff started to happen.
started to send us emails, phone calls.
people throughout South America,
we thought might be exceptional,
pretty good cell phone service.
of the forests that are most under threat.
really amazing happened,
their own old cell phones.
people who are already there,
and use the existing connectivity,
that are being sent to us
something else in their afterlife,
can be completely recycled,
an entirely upcycled device.
because of any sort of high-tech solution.
what's already there,
that if it's not phones,
going to be enough there
in new contexts.
About the speaker:Topher White - Conservation technologist
Through his startup Rainforest Connection, Topher White transforms used cell phones into guardians of the rainforest.
Why you should listen
In 2012, Topher White founded Rainforest Connection, a startup which converts recycled cell-phones into solar-powered listening devices to monitor and protect remote areas of the rainforest. Now an established NGO, Rainforest Connection has helped stop illegal logging and poaching operations in Sumatra, and the system is being expanded to three more rainforest reserves in Indonesia, the Amazon and Africa.
With a background in physics and engineering, White worked as web chief of ITER and co-founded Enthuse, a sports engagement and mobile rewards platform. For Rainforest Connection, he’s fashioned a simple device made of discarded cell phones and solar panels that detects and sends alerts when it picks up the sound of chainsaws in protected rainforests, allowing for intervention in real time.
Topher White | Speaker | TED.com