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RFID for WHAT? 101 Innovative Ways to Use Radio Frequency Identification—Part 5: Going Green

Protecting our environment.
By John Edwards
Aug 01, 2011Presented below is part five of an 11-part series examining the use of radio frequency identification for unexpected applications. In this chapter, we consider RFID's use in the environmental sector.

37. Saving Endangered Species
Perhaps the first green RFID application was tagging and tracking endangered species to determine how environmental changes are affecting their habitats. The National Marine Fisheries Services and the Bonneville Power Administration, for example, tracked tagged salmon to stem the dwindling population of salmon in Washington State's Columbia Basin. The World Wildlife Fund used RFID to monitor the white-lipped peccary, a type of wild pig, as part of a biodiversity study in the Amazon. And researchers in Alaska track polar bears to learn whether global warming impacts their movements and behaviors. (See RFID Antenna to Catch Fish, WWF Using Simple RFID System in Complex Project and RFID Earrings for Polar Bears.)

38. Detecting Forest Fires
It takes one hour on average for most forest fires to be reported, and by then, they are likely raging out of control. RFID temperature sensors can detect a fire within minutes, and then alert firefighters. A fast response makes it easier to contain the blaze and minimizes damage. (See U.S. Forest Service Explores RFID's Ability to Detect Fires and RFID in the Forest: Where There's Smoke, Firefighters Want RFID.)

39. Growing Trees, Restoring Rainforests
In Hawaii, growers are trying to replenish stocks of the indigenous koa tree, by planting saplings and RFID-tracking their lineage and growth rates, to ensure healthier trees. Scientists in Australia deployed a wireless sensor network in Springbrook National Park to monitor environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and wind speed; the information gleaned could help protect and restore rainforests. (See RFID Helps Foresters Grow Koa Trees and RFID Aids Restoration of Australian Rainforest.)
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