Poaching has been a boon on African wildlife reserves for years. With various pieces of rhinos and elephants fetching steep prices on the black market, poachers are willing to take the risk of hunting them down even on reserves. One African park in Rwanda, however, is using Internet of Things, connected devices, and a LoRaWAN Network to combat poachers and monitor the park in general.
The Akagera National Park in Rwanda has launched a new system that will allow park rangers to monitor animals, visitors and equipment in real-time, according to The Verge. They call it a “smart park” and the concept was developed by Dutch conservation organizations ShadowView and Internet of Life. The system is based on a Long Range Wide-Area Network (LoRaWAN).
The 122 square kilometer park is covered by the LoRaWAN network, which speaks with various sensors around the park. The sensors track location of park rangers, vehicles, utilities, and anyone enerink the park boundary. The data is then presented in a web application inside the Park Control room. Locations are updated in real time, giving instant access and insight to animal movement and happening across the vast park area.
“This new technology is limitless, simplified and cost effective. Its application in Akagera National Park has significantly improved the logistical management of vehicle fleets, staff in the field and given a better live picture of the on goings in the park from a distance”, says Jes Gruner, Akagera’s Park Manager, in a press release from ShadowView. “The most exciting aspect of this is the improved security this system adds for key species of wildlife and the growing tourism numbers. This is potentially a game-changing application for conservation efforts in Africa.”
LoRaWan networks are low-bandwidth, low-power technology that can cover large areas at low costs, perfect for IoT applications. These networks have already been used in at least 12 smart cities as part of Comcast’s machine enterprise IoT service. The Verge goes on to explain some of the unique characteristics of the LoRaWAN network at Akagera National Park:
Unlike easily interceptable radio frequencies, commonly used to track animals in other parks, the smart park’s signals are sent on a closed network across multiple frequencies, making the network more difficult to access. And LoraWAN systems are far less expensive than satellite-based tracking, offering an extra advantage to cash-strapped parks. As the system evolves, it could also provide a valuable source of real-time data to help managers and rangers respond to incidents across the 433-square-mile park, where 3G and 4G connections are unreliable.
The use of LoRaWAN and multiple sensors at Akagera National Park is a great example of how Internet of Things applications can be used by any industry. Using sensors to collect data is easier than ever. With the new possibilities brought forth with low-bandwidth networks such as LoRaWAN, organizations can gain real time situational awareness insight that can save money, operations, and, in the case of this park, the lives of animals.