Lithuania takes on European challenge of rural connectivity gaps with 5G technology, advancing ForestTech

Art21 @ 2024-01-25

According to the EC, forests cover 45% of European land, and 25% of the population depends on them for their well-being, including income. Moreover, 80% of the EU territory is rural, where 30% of the people live, but many of them are still lacking opportunities due to technology gaps. Lithuanians participating in the international project XGain test a 5G-based innovation that would not only bridge the digital gap between urban and remote areas but also contribute to the untapped potential of the ForestTech sector.

Cutting-edge connectivity would expand the use of drones

The XGain partners have set themselves the ambitious goal of closing the digital gap between urban, rural, and coastal regions in at least 12 countries. Lithuania is focusing on the use of the latest generation of 5G connectivity to create a solution for monitoring forests and evaluating certain properties (fire risk, pest infestation, drought-affected areas, etc.).

Functionally, the technology is based on a multirotor drone equipped with a high-end hyperspectral camera, providing valuable information but collecting large amounts of data. To extract and infer the results from the raw data, a lot of processing power is required. And when it comes to taking immediate action to prevent danger and avoid loss and damage, every minute is critical.

In hyperspectral research, a lot of valuable time is spent just transferring the data from the camera to the processing unit. The savings can be made specifically through advanced communication technologies, including the 5G network.

According to A. Alešiūnas, ForestTech has untapped potential in Lithuania

The coordinators of the use case are ART21, whose experts are now testing a connectivity solution that allows sending vast numbers of data over the above-mentioned network directly from a drone. One of the objectives is to analyze the possibilities of such live data transfer while in the air via 5G and its infrastructure in rural areas, especially in Lithuanian forests. The technology will be tested over forest-covered terrain larger than 50 ha.

Innovative ForestTech solutions that accelerate the enablement of cutting-edge technologies in forestry are one of the strategic pillars of ART21. XGain is not the only project the company is involved in that focuses on strengthening a nationally untapped sector and on innovation and development in forestry.

“The key advantage of our service is the much timelier reception of data from hyperspectral cameras. Furthermore, the 5G-based technological solution for data transmission could be easily applicable to precision agriculture.

Europe recognizes us as a country with a special environmental heritage, and the agrifood sector is also an element of Lithuania’s identity. We must not only be proud of these distinctive qualities but also nurture them in every possible way. Modernizing the sectors through digitalization is still an unexploited niche with a huge perspective,” says Augustas Alešiūnas, founder of the largest agrifood tech innovation boutique house in the Baltic countries.

The added value is far from limited to foresters

The vision of a more sustainable, opportunity-rich future forest and the digital solution being tested in Lithuania should be attractive to a broad audience. Among the potential end-users of the developed service are private forest owners, fire prevention specialists, public bodies responsible for environmental and forest management, forest engineers, researchers, and environmental agencies. Farmers, rural communities, and environmental NGOs would also benefit.

There are many scenarios of how an innovative technology could meet practical needs at the regional and national level, starting with the prevention of fire risks for people living near forests. For the stakeholders in the forestry industry, it could reduce the costs and human resources needed to measure the health of the forests, investigate fires that have already occurred, and monitor (il)legal logging or wildlife.

The project’s team objectives are also in line with the EU’s actions to accelerate digital transformation in rural areas. The solution would create new technology-based workplaces, let’s say, for drone operators, upgrade the skills of existing workers, and empower the local community with forest digitalization.

+370 620 80238
Draugystes str. 20, LT-89167 Mazeikiai, Lithuania

Company code: 300635091
VAT code: LT100004103016
Bank account: LT413500010017004947