By the Numbers #14

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By the Numbers #14

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The Daintree Rainforest Observatory in Australia installed 600 sensors to monitor environmental conditions in the forest. The observatory faces challenges that are common (in at least some form) to many IoT implementations. For example, consistently powering the sensors can be hard given that they rely on solar power underneath a rain forest canopy. Also, it’s a challenge to transmit the sensor data back to the network with no cellular coverage in the area.

However, there are also more unique problems that aren’t often addressed in academic settings. Problems like giant white tailed rats.

That’s right. Apparently the rats in the forest have an affinity for chewing on wires. Per diginomica, “the Giant White Tailed Rat is a particular nuisance in Far North Queensland with its love of chewing through plastic, rubber and electrical wires.” In what sounds like an ongoing battle, the observatory is working to figure out how to armor the wires of its network from the rats.

The promise of the Internet of Things is to gather data from physical objects by connecting them to a network; the difficulty of the Internet of Things is that the network is not impervious to the world around it. The giant white tailed rat is a good reminder that real world IoT implementations face variable conditions and unexpected challenges. These networks will face unanticipated environmental factors that adversely impact the project, and there are many elements that can and will conspire against the collection of reliable data. Maintainers of IoT networks should therefore plan for the unplanned.


I’m sure I am not alone in finding the news exhausting these days.* That’s the primary reason for the lengthy stretch between By the Numbers installments. Even with a long break and innocuous animal theme to restart, I’m still struggling. Instead of pretending to have relevant commentary about drone technology and the natural world, I’m just going to link. Here are five animal vs. drone videos. (I know the article says six, but you can skip the tuna one.)

* Tangentially related to both news exhaustion and the number 5: if you also believe that silence is not an option, consider reaching out to your representatives. The open sourced 5 Calls app can help if you’re unsure where to start.


We’re closing out today with the top land speed of a Komodo dragon. Humor me.

Steve and I joined the Pivotal team for a podcast about management, which included a discussion about the difficulties in incentivizing middle managers. In the ensuing discussion, Steve referenced some management wisdom from Neal Stephenson’s book Cryptonomicon.

Fans of the book will recall that the tide of some battles turned not only on military operations but also on Komodo dragons. For those who were wondering if they could outrun these 10 foot, 150 pound lizards, the answer is ‘possibly, but probably not.’ A Komodo dragon can run up to 12.4 miles per hour for up to 400 meters. While it is therefore advisable not to enter military conflicts in areas rife with carnivorous lizards, it’s even more important to avoid brown bears, which can apparently maintain a speed of 30 miles per hour for up to 2 miles. So now you know, and


Disclosure: Pivotal is a RedMonk client.

(Featured image photo credit: Flickr/morebyless under CC-BY 2.0)

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