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Finnish pilot develops mobile app that puts forest Big Data to more efficient use

Europe is looking for new ways to use farm, forest and fishery resources more responsibly and sustainably and to promote the production of the best possible raw materials in order to increase the availability of food, energy, and biomaterials. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Oy, the Finnish Forest Centre, and MHG Systems Oy have joined forces to accelerate European bioeconomy with the help of big data technologies based on aerial and satellite images and on open forest data.

Ready for take-off, Senop‘s hyperspectral camera attached to a drone, ready for vegetation and forest monitoring flight in DataBio – forestry pilot in Mikkelin, Finland (photo courtesy MHG Systems).

An EU co-funded project under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the 3-year Data-Driven Bioeconomy (DataBio) project aims to use innovative information and communication technology (ICT) and information flows from proximal and remote sensors to provide a streamlined Big Data Infrastructure for data discovery, retrieval, processing and visualizing, in support to decisions in bioeconomy business operations.

Population growth and urbanisation are increasing the demand for natural resources, which is putting a strain on the Earth’s carrying capacity. The European DataBio project aims to develop new sustainable ways to use the forest, farm, and fishery resources and to communicate real-time information to decision-makers and producers – land- and forest owners, farmers, and fishermen, explained Research Professor Caj Södergård from VTT, who acts as the project’s Technology Manager.

The DataBio project consortium includes 48 partners from Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Launched January 1, 2017, the EUR 16.1 million project has now resulted in the launch of 26 bioeconomy pilots in 17 different countries.

Wuudis forest app

The Finnish consortium is responsible for forestry pilots that are aimed at, among other things, making the collection and sharing of data easier across the forest value chain. The Finnish partners – VTT, MHG Systems Oy, the Finnish Forest Centre, and Senop Oy – have developed, among other innovations, a unique mobile application that puts forest data to more efficient use.

One of the Finnish consortium’s innovations is a globally unique concept based on forestry standards, which allows landowners and forestry operators to collect data on their forests using a smartphone and upload the data to the Finnish Forest Centre’s forest resource database with the help of an application called Wuudis, explained Seppo Huurinainen, CEO, MHG Systems.

Huurinainen coordinates the DataBio project’s forestry pilots.

This facilitates the payment of sustainable forestry subsidies and makes it easier to collect information and keep forest inventories up to date, as the application accurately calculates the volume and quality of the trees left in a stand aftercare works and harvesting, Huurinainen said.

Scalable to other countries

The Wuudis service and the associated mobile application, as well as standardized forest resource data concept provided by the Finnish Forest Centre, can be easily scaled to other countries.  The mobile application can be also used to monitor the effects of storms, snow, pests, diseases and the like. The solution developers are currently in talks with potential users in Spain and an African country.

Another Finnish pilot has developed a service concept based on inventorying forests using drones. Thousands of hectares of forest have already been inventoried with the help of the service this summer.

All the pilots included in the project involve developing common software tools for analysing and refining information flows. The results of the pilots and the new solutions are also expected to create new business opportunities and increase the use of big data technologies in the bioeconomy industry’s primary production.

We are very excited, anticipating tangible success stories showing there is real value for all in using big data technologies in bioeconomy, said Dr Athanasios Poulakidas from Intrasoft International, the DataBio Project Coordinator.

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