Fighting Poachers with an IoT Low Power Wide Area Network

Posted by on November 8, 2017 at 5:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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Environmental crime worldwide rakes in an estimated $70-130 billion in U.S. dollars yearly according to the United Nations. On top of this list, poaching seems to be creating more problems for our environment than ever before. Placing endangered animals at much greater risk of extinction and wreaking havoc across ecosystems and even private property, poachers are radically reducing wild populations of rhinos, great apes, elephants, and a slew of additional flora and fauna.  

While the fight against poaching has made some advancements in recent years as nations tighten poaching laws, those that fight to defend vulnerable animal populations cannot be everywhere at once. Even modest animal reservations and parks are spread out over many hundreds of acres, leaving animals more vulnerable to poachers because such massive areas are almost impossible to monitor around the clock with human security teams alone.

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Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks provide a robust first line of defense for wildlife refuges and parks alike, offering an affordable and durable solution to bring a park online to the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, Springwise reports that the London Zoo is working with wildlife management teams around the world to test LPWA security prototypes that will allow for differentiation between animal and poacher activity within a given area using networked sensors. In this case, used for small-data yes/no inquiries and threshold monitoring, LPWA technology still allows tracking because each sensor is individually identifiable. Authorities can map sensors, each with a unique ID, at the time of placement to get a good idea of where intruders are entering. The prototypes imagined by the London Zoo would not only allow wildlife protection authorities to know where a poacher is at all times, but they also show how far the individual is from known animal habitats in the area and how quickly the individual is moving.

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Watch Land from Anywhere, Always Be Ready for Poachers

LPWA’s long battery life and range makes it the ideal solution for hard to navigate wilds or habitats that must be left undisturbed for lengthy periods due to breeding, hunting patterns, or risk of habitat abandonment. LPWA networks also are durable enough to withstand the rain, wind, storms, and the sometimes punishing temperatures of wildlife environments. They can connect to almost any monitoring device, meaning that wildlife management authorities easily can integrate almost any existing digital sensor to a LPWA network. Sensors can even be concealed to prevent tampering from poachers. And the ruggedness of an LPWA network makes investment in these sensors worthwhile. LPWA networks even can relay data back to the cloud to make remote monitoring possible from anywhere in the world, thereby facilitating true 24/7 observation.  

Customizable Applications for Wildlife Environments

Although LPWA networks transmit information in smaller packets than cellular or wireless connections, there still is a lot that can be accomplished. For instance, wildlife authorities could set a perimeter around a beach known for sea turtle nests. Aside from physical barriers, LPWA networks can act as a kind of digital fence, letting authorities know when anyone crosses into the area. In addition to relaying alerts back to the network, motion sensors, using machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, then connect with an alarm system to scare off potential poachers; or to relay instructions for the network to switch on floodlights; or to call out nearby authorities. In the case of sea turtles, the perimeters need not cover an entire beach but could, instead, surround the sea dunes and grasses preferred by turtles ready to lay eggs.

LPWA networks also may be used to track poacher activity. Motion sensors across the network may be linked to create a virtual, timestamped map of a potential poacher’s movements through the refuge or park. Meanwhile, motion sensors themselves can be set to a specific threshold to avoid false alerts for larger animals. Because poaching usually is a repeat offense, data tracked over time may allow for better predictions of where and when the next poacher may strike, allowing authorities to head off intrusions and conduct arrests. Wildlife authorities also may leverage the data to make strategic plans for enhanced security measures at proven weak points along habitat perimeters. If physical evidence of intrusion can be matched with digital alerts, data collected from LPWA network monitoring may even provide solid evidence in the prosecution of poachers.

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Likewise, while LPWA networks are not equipped to transmit video footage, a tripped motion sensor could be programed to trigger linked cameras to begin photographing or recording poacher activity. This footage may be retrieved later or transmitted back through a cellular network.

Aeris Network Solutions for Your Wildlife Protection Team

Aeris is a growing international provider of IoT network solutions. We will work closely with your IT team to identify your network needs and set up and maintain the LPWA network itself. We even can recommend a combination of LPWA networking and cellular interventions to allow for maximum coverage, maximum monitoring.  

We are passionate about customer service and committed to helping you fight back against poachers. Ready to defend wild animals with the latest IoT technology? Contact us today to learn more about our networks.

Topics: IoT, LPWA, iot / m2m, IoT monitoring, low power wide area network, poaching, wildlife