As the world grows more interconnected, experts in almost every field are looking for ways to leverage cutting-edge technologies that enable real-time data collection and improve decision-making. The internet of things has near-limitless potential to transform industrial systems, business applications and consumer devices - new use cases are constantly cropping up, allowing organizations to develop creative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.
One area where IoT is having a major impact is wildlife conservation. As noted by TechRepublic contributor Charles McLellan, biodiversity loss and climate change are taking a significant toll on ecosystems across the globe, leading wildlife experts to seek out new methods for protecting endangered species. This sentiment is also shared by the general public - according to a 2019 survey from the National Geographic Society, the vast majority of polled adults from over 12 industrialized nations believe that "more than half the planet's land and sea" should be protected. Interestingly, the survey also found that many citizens have a limited understanding of conservation topics like extinction. To help bridge the gap, wildlife experts are deploying new IoT solutions that will help keep track of endangered populations and keystone species.
How IoT is safeguarding keystone species
Keystone species play a vital role in their ecosystems, according to National Geographic, and the removal of specific populations can have disastrous consequences for the surrounding plant and animal life. This is particularly true for endangered predators like lions and cheetahs, which can be hard to track even in protected areas. To overcome these challenges, wildlife experts at Malawi's Liwonde National Park have partnered with Smart Parks, a U.K.-based technology company, to create a new pilot program called the OpenCollar initiative, ZDNet reported. This project seeks to attract the next generation of students and researchers to the conservation field by developing new tracking systems that can be customized for different animal species.
One of the primary goals of the OpenCollar initiative is to design GPS-enabled tracking collars (using low-power wide-area network protocols) that can be fitted onto lions and cheetahs living in Liwonde National Park. Once deployed, these collars could allow researchers to monitor animal populations in "close to" real time without the need for frequent battery changes.
"The new LoRa GPS transmitter collar units, which feed into our Wide Area Network, have had numerous benefits - not only do we get near-live-time tracking, but this comes at a far lower cost than traditional satellite GPS collars," said Craig Reid, manager of Liwonde National Park, in an interview with ZDNet.
These lightweight tracking systems were developed for use in rugged outdoor conditions and can be configured remotely, allowing for more precise monitoring of battery usage, environmental conditions and other key data points. Of course, aggregating data from multiple sources requires quite a bit of networking power and reliable infrastructure.
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