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ZSL Tests IoT Wildlife Anti-Poaching Systems

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The deal with the Zoological Society of London is to see UK companies testing internet-connected sensors on a low-power wide area network

The government-backed Digital Catapult has formed a deal with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to test connected ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices for use in anti-poaching systems in remote wildlife conservation areas.

ZSL is to test devices linked over low-power wide area networks (LPWANs) that can ultimately be established in satellite-enabled networks of sensors that conservationists can use to detect poaching threats.

Low-power networking

Digital Catapult said on Tuesday it has established a LPWAN base station at ZSL’s headquarters at London Zoo so that prototypes can be tested and validated on site, while ZSL has engaged UK-based companies to develop components for the envisioned system.

It’s hoped the system can be used to protect species including African elephants, black rhinos and mountain gorillas.

Gorilla_zoo-leipzigZSL wants to link sensors to a low-power wireless network so that they can detect activity in game reserves, determine whether it originates from wildlife or poachers, and raise real-time alerts for those monitoring the area.

Similar technologies have already been pioneered in areas such as Kenya, Nepal, Australia, the Chagos Archipelago and Antarctica, with the aim of extending sensor networks deeper into remote wildlife habitats.

“This LPWAN network will add an additional technological edge to our work,” stated ZSL conservation technology lead Sophie Maxwell.

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‘Internet of Things’ expansion

Digital Catapult is a government-backed initiative aimed at boosting cutting-edge technologies that can benefit the UK’s economy.

It has established a LPWAN network in London comprising 50 base stations, called Things Connected, which is freely available for UK entrepreneurs and developers looking to carry out real-world tests of connected device prototypes.

The organisation argues the LPWAN technology can be used in smart transport, health monitoring and energy, and can help make the UK a pioneer in the IoT field.

ZSL London Zoo
ZSL’s headquarters at London Zoo.

“Connectivity is critical today – for tackling threats such as poaching, but also for developing next generation solutions across sectors,” said Digital Catapult chief executive Jeremy Silver in a statement.

In February Digital Catapult secured £1.1 million in funding for a scheme called Cyber 101 aimed at providing business advice and mentoring to help UK cyber security startups grow into larger firms.

The funding cames courtesy of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), wich has a £1.9 billion pot for supporting its National Cyber Security Strategy.

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