Time to digitise Omani nature

Green economy is booming. This is old news. It has been booming for nearly a decade. With many failed experiments to please the new environmentally conscious generation, we are now at a stage of renewed maturity of the industry. Investments are not done in a rush, but rather with the ability of seeing long term consequences.
The classic “what not to do” example is the shared bicycles.
Everybody sang “Hurray for clean mobility” when the first pay-per-ride bikes were spotted in some major metropolis across Asia, Europe and the USA. Then the excitement faded when bikes started breaking down, and nobody was fixing them.
At that time, about a couple of years ago in Singapore, I could have spent 15 minutes — and perhaps 10 per cent of my phone’s battery — trying to unlock just one of the 7 bicycles available in the car park below my office, failing 7 out of 7. So for a bike ride that I could have done in 5 minutes, I ended up wasting 15 minutes fighting with technology and another 15 minutes to eventually walk to my destination.
Fast forward a year and a half, and viral pictures on social media show cemeteries of abandoned bicycles all over Asia. One of such wastelands in China is said to contain up to 150 million trashed bikes. With all this talk about how bad are plastic strokes for the environment, imagine how long it will take to biodegrade 150 million metal and plastic bicycles.
That is the result of green hysteria: a bunch of young geek entrepreneur determined to fix a no-longer so pressing problem — like car pollution — in the shortest possible time without caring for long term consequences.
But there is another aspect of the green economy that is not equally debated: the digitisation of forestry and animals (both wild and domesticated).
As we move towards a lesser and lesser agricultural society, where parents wish their children to be digital marketers more than frankincense farmers, we will have a shortage of expertise and lack of investments towards the preservation of nature.
An example, for debate sake, could be to digitise Omani frankincense trees. Some scientists in Oman have already started researching the miraculous properties of frankincense and produced extracts that allegedly can help in cancer treatment. Others have figured out ways to increase the yield of such plants.
But given the affordability of sensors, SIM cards and any sort of device nowadays, an idea could be to have a live census of the plants, knowing where they are, who owns them, what is the current temperature of the bark, what is the humidity level in the roots etc.
All these data could be connected to a data centre and placed on a map, to have a snapshot picture of the projected frankincense production for the upcoming years.
The same idea could be applicable to the world renowned Omani dates: agriculture, trade and retail commerce would all benefit from a thorough assessment of the existing resources. Supermarkets could book their supplies in advance and we could project supply for export to the countries who love our delicious Omani dates.
Camels are also a peculiarity of the Arab peninsula and a great case study material when it comes to tech integration.
We have seen amazing tech progresses in European countries like Germany and their bovines. Cows are tracked and assessed in real time, based on their food consumption, body temperature, milk production etc. Camels are both domesticated and wild, hence the total census might be a hard task to accomplish with old technologies.
But through the introductions of drones to fly over areas hard to access, where camels and goats may take refuge from the heat, we could have a clear picture of the wild nature census. Also, underskin chipsets could help us find out more about the eagles and other birds, tracking their roots and finding out the diet habits of such beautiful animals.
Lastly, a widespread tracking system, able to monitor air pressure, temperature and other climate variables, might be pivotal in avoiding other weather calamities to afflict Oman in the future.
I believe it might be the right time to bring technology and innovation in the beautiful nature of Oman.
One step forward in this direction could be an inspiration to the neighbour countries to get started with a new wave of green tech. One able to keep conservation at the core for long term sustainability while benefiting other segments of society, such as education, economy and culture.