On November 19–20, 2022 Libelula and Earth Hacks co-hosted AmazoniaHack: An Open Hardware Hackathon for the Amazon Rainforest, to support Libelula in their mission to end illegal deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. Deforestation is a complex problem with no single solution, but Libelula aims to contribute to a constellation of solutions by fostering technology development, imagination, and action through open innovation. This was Earth Hacks’ first hardware-focused hackathon, first bilingual hackathon — with events and conversations taking place in both English and Portuguese — and first hackathon focused on supporting hackers and organizations in South America!
This hackathon focused on using data gathered and lessons learned from the test deployment of Libelula’s first hardware prototype to monitor endangered tree species to create a second prototype ready for full system deployment. Participants worked together to conduct background research and create design proposals for different aspects of the sensing mechanisms, power constraints, secure housing, networking mechanisms, and more details for the device using specifications as provided by Libelula. Earth Hacks oversaw the event organization and execution in line with guidance and expectations from Libelula and their partners on the ground.
The challenge proposed to participants of this hardware hackathon was to help create the next iteration of an IoT device developed by Libelula and Greenbug to help fight deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. Participants worked together in teams of 2–5 to develop their projects. Although the focus was on creating solutions to this specific IoT challenge, some groups came out with different ideas for forest monitoring. We encouraged teams to be composed of participants from different institutions, backgrounds, and if possible, countries. Participants joined AmazoniaHack from The United States, Brazil, Paraguay, Guatemala, Scotland, England, and Nepal. The hackathon consisted of hours of hacking time and conversations, as well as talks by representatives from Seeed Studio, Cadence Design Systems, and Nordic Semiconductor, the event’s title sponsor.
The winning projects were NAURÚ, a hardware monitoring system coupled with a social advocacy model, Track N’ Save, a project using biodiversity as a proxy for deforestation, and HARPY, an app to make rainforest monitoring possible with just a smartphone.
Marcelo Vieira, the CEO and founder of Greenbug Predictions, a partner for the event, shared that he loved the good feeling of doing something for the earth that came from the event. Marina Tavares, founder of Libelula, said that seeing the projects, insights, and conversations from the event helped her reframe her anxiety about deforestation into action.
We hope this hackathon is the first step in filling a gap in the deforestation monitoring ecosystem, and a starting point for hackers and engineering students to realize just how much they have to contribute to the global fight against deforestation.