GE Creates World's First 'Connected Volcano'

Hooks Up Sensors to Nicaraguan Volcano; Shares on Social Media

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Digital industrial company GE, which has been at the forefront of using new technologies to tell its story, is creating the world's first "connected volcano" and sharing the journey on social media.

GE's sensors will capture data from an active volcano.
GE's sensors will capture data from an active volcano. Credit: GE

To do this, GE is partnering with explorer Sam Cossman at Qwake, a company that combines global expeditions with cutting-edge technology. GE is the digital and software partner for an expedition Mr. Cossman is leading in Nicaragua to connect sensors to a live volcano in order to gather data for early warning systems and other purposes.

"We are leveraging Predix, GE's industrial internet software, to help build the foundation of a digital ecosystem Mr. Cossman and his team at Qwake are putting in place at the volcano," said Sydney Williams, global digital marketing manager at GE.

"Later down the road, we will provide real-time access to data the volcano is emitting so it can be evaluated by developers around the world," Ms. Williams said. "This will be open-source data for anyone who is interested in developing real-time monitoring apps associated with the data."

The expedition, which began last week, will culminate mid-day Wednesday, when Mr. Cossman and his team will make the final descent into the volcano. The journey is being shared on social media channels including Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat.

GE Snapcode
GE Snapcode

Ms. Williams said GE is trying to reach an audience of customers, employees and millennials who "share our passion for science, technology and innovation."

While this is the first time GE has used advanced sensors to hook up a live volcano, it develops sensors for other industrial applications including jet engines, locomotives and oil and gas pipelines.

"We are able to collect data through the industrial internet and platforms like Predix to predict things like engine failures and other types of problems we can't see," she said.

Phase one of the "connected volcano" is the sensor installation. Phase two, which will begin in a few months, will entail uploading the volcanic data into Predix and making it available to developers and other interested parties, Ms. Williams said.

"We are really excited about the possibilities that this community will come back with," she said.

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