SenseCAP Smart Environmental Monitoring Empowers Rural Agriculture & Tourism for SDGs in Heyuan, China

Xiankeng Village Project describes how Seeed’s partnership with Vanke has contributed to China’s rural revitalization efforts, by helping out rural farmers to monitor their rice paddies more intelligently, and to encourage local tourism in order to enhance their livelihoods. By using the SenseCAP IIoT solution, this Project seeks to contribute to the UN’s SDGs 1, 8, 9, 11 and 17.

Project Name: Xiankeng Village Project
Deployment Location: Heyuan, China
Targeted Industry Type: Agriculture & Tourism
Project Partner(s):

 

After more than 4 decades of national reforms and “Opening Up” policy from 1979, China has become the world’s second-largest economy, while being the “largest developing agricultural country in the world” (Xue et al, 2021). While great strides have been made in health care, poverty alleviation, and education, socioeconomic disparity in living standards and income between urban and rural landscapes still continues to date (Lu et al, 2019). Ever since, rural revitalization has been set at the forefront of China’s national development agenda, including the 14th Five-Year-Plan for 2021-2025 (CGTN, 2021).

When it comes to technological advancement, the gap between cities and countryside areas becomes all the more apparent: “the gap between those who have access to and can effectively use ICTs, and those who cannot” (Wilhelm, 2001). To address this issue, China has recently witnessed thriving pilot projects in rural areas that deployed technologies like AI, IoT, and blockchain to upgrade agricultural tools, and to facilitate local tourism.

 

What’s the Challenge?

How to upgrade people’s income and living standards in rural villages by closing the digital divide?

 

What’s the Project About?

In 2018, Vanke joined China’s nationwide poverty alleviation campaign known as “10,000 enterprises assist 10,000 villages”. As a part of this campaign, Vanke invited Seeed to become a project partner in 2019, to deploy our SenseCAP LoRaWAN products in Xiankeng Village in Heyuan, a municipality in China’s Guangdong Province (Figure 1). Through this project, we wanted to assist rural farmers to manage their agricultural farms more efficiently, and to provide insightful environmental information to promote the village as a tourist destination.

 

Figure 1. Location of Xiankeng Village in Guangdong Province

 

Vanke is one of China’s leading industry players in urban and rural construction, as well as residential property services. The company values the people-centric model of service creation, founded on people’s diverse needs. In doing so, Vanke is committed to achieving sustainable development within its extensive business scope: long-term residential apartments, commerce, logistics, education, among other things.

As for Xiankeng Village (Figure 2), it is a small village with a history of more than 400 years, and has a rich cultural heritage of Hakka Culture. The village is surrounded by mountains and rivers, and has a perfectly arable land for growing agricultural crops. Naturally, the village’s cash crops have been rice and tea for a long time. However, the village has been suffering from poverty resulting from low income levels of villagers, who are mostly farmers. To tackle this issue, there was a long discourse on how to improve the villagers’ living standards. A number of multi-stakeholders like village farmers, local government agencies, Vanke, and Seeed came together to brainstorm ideas. As a result, we agreed that rural revitalization and village tourism were the keys to relieve poverty. Therefore, Vanke decided to renovate the village’s old Hakka architecture to boost tourism, while deploying IoT gears to create a competitive edge.

 

Figure 2. Xiankeng Village (News Guangdong, 2019)

 

Seeed and Vanke both value client-centric, and needs-based model of innovation. On the outset of the project, we went on several site visits together to the village, in order to better understand our client: the villagers. In the end, a weather station in a rice paddy, and an environmental monitoring system in a tea plantation have been deployed, by using the SenseCAP series (Figure 3).

 

Figure 3. SenseCAP Deployment in Xiankeng Village

 

By deploying SenseCAP gateways and sensors, weather patterns and environmental surroundings of rice paddies and tea plantations will be detected 24/7 (Figure 4). This will help build evidence on identifying the most amicable weather conditions for tourists, and to design tour packages according to different weather patterns. Likewise, the SenseCAP would be able to validate the quality of village farmers’ cash crops. Thus, villagers would be able to create extra values on their upgraded crops, and gain brand recognition from customers.

 

Figure 4. System Deployment Diagram of Xiankeng Village Project

 

Through the SenseCAP sensors, 10 parameters were collected through the weather station and the environmental monitoring system: barometric pressure; air temperature; air humidity; light intensity; CO2; wind speed; wind direction; rain volume; soil temperature, and; soil moisture. Once this data is integrated, the living data is shown on a webpage and a mini-program on WeChat (widespread Chinese SMS/MMS APP, like WhatsApp) (Figure 5).

 

Figure 5. Demonstration of Integrated Data on a Smartphone

 

Such an IoT system, on the one hand, is convenient for villagers to check useful information on environmental conditions for agricultural purposes, and to manage rice paddies and tea plantations intelligently on their computers and smartphones (Figure 6). Through the cooperation with agricultural experts, we set an alarm system for different parameters as well. In this way, when the data detects any abnormalities on the field, the villagers will receive notifications, which will enable them to take necessary actions. On the other hand, the real-time and chronological data on the region’s environment became accessible for local tourism agencies and other multi-stakeholders involved in Xiankeng tourism promotion.

 

Figure 6. Integrated Data Demonstrated on a Computer Dashboard

 

Now, you might be wondering which SenseCAP products were deployed in this Project:
1. SenseCAP Outdoor Gateway – LoRaWAN
2. SenseCAP Wireless Barometric Pressure Sensor – LoRaWAN
3. SenseCAP Wireless Air Temperature & Humidity Sensor – LoRaWAN
4. SenseCAP Wireless Light Intensity Sensor – LoRaWAN
5. SenseCAP Wireless CO2 Sensor – LoRaWAN
6. SenseCAP Wireless Soil Moisture & Temperature Sensor – LoRaWAN

As a result of this project, Xiankeng Village has been recognized as a good demonstration site for other villages seeking technologically innovative rural revitalization efforts. Soon after, the village was selected as one of the “Top 10 Beautiful Villages in Guangdong” out of 284 villages (News Guangdong, 2019).

 

Which SDGs Are Relevant?

Among all the 17 SDGs, Xiankeng village project is deeply connected with 5 SDGs (Figure 7): SDG 1 (No Poverty); SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth); SDG 9 (Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and; SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

 

Figure 7. Xiankeng Village Project’s Contribution to SDGs (UN, 2016)

 

When we pay a closer attention to these SDGs’ Targets, we can learn how Xiankeng Village Project is contributing to sustainable development in more detail:
1. Diverse resource mobilization for poverty reduction (Target 1.A);
2. Deployment of IIoT solution to enhance villagers’ economic productivity (Target 8.2);
3. Added value of cash crops (Target 9.B)
4. Reinforcement of socioeconomic and environmental services by public-private partnership’s technology transfer (Targets 11.A & 17.16).

In conclusion, Xiankeng Village Project teaches us that once the like-minded stakeholders are working for a common goal, it can actually have sustainable impacts on agriculture and tourism. As Henry Ford described, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”. Now, let’s dig into finding the right people, at the right time, at the right place to materialize our dream projects! 😉

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