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Vodafone Germany uses digital twins to protect trees against extreme heat

23 May 2024Technology news
2 minute read

The rise of global warming has caused cities to become warmer. In Germany, this has led to a loss of natural sites and caused the maintenance of greenery to become much harder.

In particular, urban trees are often watered too late, too much or not enough, causing them to die out quickly. A new Internet of Things (IoT) project is exploring how connected technology can help to maintain healthy trees more effectively, while reducing water waste, CO2 emissions and cost.

Weather detection sensors

In the city of Erlangen, Vodafone Germany has worked with the plant cultivation start-up Agvolution, which is part of the Vodafone UPLIFT program, and the local Friedrich-Alexander University to develop sensors which can monitor soil humidity and temperature.

Placed 60 centimetres underground, the sensors collect live data on trees in the city in real-time. 16 weather stations have also been activated to support on monitoring factors such as air temperature, humidity, air pressure and precipitation.

To ensure that all the data collection is accurate and consistent, data is transmitted via a local city network and Vodafone has also activated a Narrowband Internet of Things (IoT) machine network to support distant areas of the city.

Learning from digital twins

The data from the sensors allows Agvolution to create ‘digital twins’ of the trees being monitored. Digital twins allow physical assets or processes to be monitored in real-time, enabling a user to predict behaviour or plan maintenance.

In this case, the digital twins provide a virtual understanding of how the trees will react based on the moisture levels given by the sensors. From this, the city can determine the priority of care for trees and adjust watering levels accordingly.

This data is especially important in the dry seasons, as the correct watering cycles become a key part in the maintenance of healthy trees.

Vodafone Germany uses digital twins to protect trees against extreme heat

Left: Thomas Maier, CTO Agvolution; Middle: Dr. Fabian Mehring, Bavarian State Minister for Digital Affair; Right: Christoph Kintopp, Head of Urban Greenery in the Division for Urban Greenery, Waste Management and Street Cleaning

Greener cities for the future

The trial started in February 2023 and is due to finish in September 2024.

The findings have helped to better plan and organise the watering of the trees in summer. In total, the project is estimated to save around 250 cubic meters of water in Erlangen. The preservation of existing trees will also help avoid the planting of 20 new trees, which is around 70% of the plant replacement from previous years that became necessary due to drought.

Other areas of Germany are now following in the footsteps of Erlangen. Pirmasens, Bamberg, Hannover, Berlin, Potsdam and Garbsen have begun working with Agvolution and Vodafone to install and set up networks for sensors to monitor their local greenery.

  • Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Data
  • Europe
  • IoT
  • Protecting the Planet
  • Sustainability
  • Biodiversity
  • SDGs
  • SDG 15
  • SDG 13

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