Today, more than half of the global population lives in urban areas. But these places are missing a crucial element of life – nature. As cities spill over with people, green spaces are few and far between. Once rich ecosystems are diminishing into concrete graveyards, with trees in the city dying out more than 80 years before their rural counterparts. To save these invaluable environments from extinction, Nadina Galle is reconnecting us to our roots with an internet built for the Earth.

Raised in Canada, Galle grew accustomed to the humdrum of suburbia. But after discovering society’s destructive and flawed design, Galle knew something had to change. “I started to question that imbalance between nature and cities,” she says. “Can we reimagine these cities to be better places for both humans and all of these other species?” Galle went on to obtain a PhD in Ecological Engineering. As she ventured deeper into her research, she unveiled a painful truth – green spaces weren’t being prioritised or cared for in the city. So, Galle developed the Internet of Nature, a cutting-edge network that uses sensors, satellite imagery, and algorithms to reveal the quality, health, and growth of urban ecology.

Galle’s system has become a model for sustainable cities around the world. Using the biological communication framework, she captures high resolution, multi-spectral satellite images that map and monitor the composition of an ecosystem, including the quality of soil and water bodies. Galle’s most renowned project to date is Green City Watch, a geospatial AI platform that detects roots and fungal fibres in an area and analyses the overall health of individual trees in real-time. From Jakarta to Amsterdam, governments and residents in over 30 major cities have been able to use the detailed data to better understand and improve their local environment. Fusing emerging technologies with ecology, Galle is placing nature at the heart of society once more.