The Power of Trees - IC Brunch & Knowledge with Dr. Nadina Galle
Brunch & Knowledge is a monthly event series organised by the Innovation Center of MOME, and gives insight into a vast array of topics, ranging from volunteering and charity to change management. The last online session featured a presentation by ecological engineer Dr. Nadina Galle, who coined the term “Internet of Nature”, a framework of technological solutions to build better cities for both people and nature.
Dr. Galle, a former Fulbright scholar and MIT researcher, had her epiphany at age 12. Deeply impacted by a Canadian documentary called The End of Suburbia, she began to worry that the lifestyle she enjoyed growing up in a Canadian suburb in Waterloo, Ont., would eventually lead to the “collapse of the society (she) was born into”. She realized already at this young age that life in the suburbs, however happy it may be, had its flaws.
“At the age of 12, I decided it would become my life’s mission to build better places for people to live,” Dr. Galle explains in her TEDx talk.
“Born in the Netherlands and raised in Canada, I developed my love for the outdoors and my commitment to conserving nature from a young age. Reading works by Jane Jacobs and James Howard Kunstler as a teenager, I questioned the imbalance between nature and the encroaching urban sprawl I saw around me in suburban Canada”.
Currently, Dr. Galle resides in the Netherlands, researching and developing smart nature-based solutions focused on how to better care for decaying urban greenery and urban forests.
As she points out in her TEDx talk, even though 3 million people move to cities each week, no one ever talks about what kind of life they will lead once there. People can spend their entire life in a city without ever considering how to better care for the nature around them.
The Internet of Nature can help to reconnect with, protect and restore urban nature. Design plays a crucial role in this process: cities need to improve planning around urban greenery, as well as to recognise and raise awareness about the great many benefits green cities can bring, from energy saving to improving general health, just to mention a few.
The Internet of Nature can also have versatile practical applications: networks of trees wired with sensors to fight extreme heat and drought, on-demand drone imagery analyses that tackle urban deforestation, machine-learning algorithms that scan satellite imagery to prevent wildfire damage, or augmented reality games that spark a new passion for nature conservation are just a few that she mentioned in her interview with Living Architecture Monitor.
Impact-driven solutions that can lead to a more sustainable world is a key area of interest for MOME’s Innovation Center, as the university has also set out to become the first carbon-neutral higher education institution of the country by 2030. Having accomplished speakers such as Dr. Nadina Galle at our events is therefore truly inspiring to all of us.