Smart Park Akagera, Rwanda
This page provides details about our Smart Parks solution deployment in Akagera National Park, Rwanda.
The Shadow View Foundation has started a partnership with The Internet of Life to provide Akagera National Park with an advanced sensor solution that focuses on the environmental Internet of Things and outdoor connectivity. This project is based on our proof of concept for Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania.
In February 2017 we have successfully installed the solution to cover 50% of Akagera National Park. This includes the placement of 100 GPS trackers, generating over 140.000 location updates per day. We are devoted to complete the project and cover the entire Park by the end of 2017. We are confident that this solution provides an extra layer of security to keep wildlife, visitors and park management safe.
There exist several applications for wildlife tracking. In addition to tracking wildlife for traditional research and conservation purposes, the remote monitoring of wildlife is important to ensure the security of different animal species. To protect endangered animals it is important to know their location. It is our goal to help large African game parks to mitigate the risk of poaching of large groups of endangered mammals such as elephants and rhinoceros. The increasing number of poached animals demonstrates the scale and severity of this problem. In 2007, there were 13 recorded poaching incidents in South African game parks. In 2014, this rate reached a staggering 1215! If the poaching continues at this rate, wild rhinos will become extinct within the next decade. On top of that, poachers have found ways to pick up the signal of the majority of traditional tracking devices currently in place, which adds an additional risk to the protection of endangered animals worldwide.
Park Management is not only responsible for the direct protection of wildlife, but also for operations and the maintainance of the park’s infrastructure. Roads, gates, cars, water, fuel tanks, buildings; everything needs to be in top condition at all times.
In large and remote areas like the Akagera National Park, managing these assets is challenging. Having access to more real-time information about the position and condition of these assets may improve operational planning and capacity management of staff resources. We also know that tourists often get into trouble just outside the area, where they have no mobile phone coverage to call for help. Access to real-time information about the location of Park visitors will therefore also improve overall safety.
We use the LoRa® network technology as a foundation to build a private network infrastructure that enables Park Management to monitor all activities within Akagera National Park. A LoRa Network is a type of telecommunication network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among things (connected objects), such as sensors operated on a battery. Its signal is almost impossible to be detected by poachers and runs on solar energy.
Existing solutions to track wildlife are based on satellite technology. This type of technology has high usage costs and needs expensive, heavy tracking devices. A 13 kg collar costs around $25.000, which excludes placing costs.
LoRa® technology allows us to set-up of a complete private network infrastructure that ensures high efficiency against low costs. Through the use of LoRa® Gateways that cover the entire 1200 km2 Akagera National Park area, we can track tens of thousands of animals, vehicles and other assets, at the cost of a few satellite trackers.
With the two expeditions we have executed so far, we were able to cover 50% of the Akagera National Park. The engineers from The Internet of Life have teamed up with the local crew of Akagera National Park to set up up a functioning network. This network has been tested successfully and ShadowView has provided the park with 100 of our GPS trackers. In collaboration with the park officials, the devices have been placed on all important vehicles and park staff. The network equipment is placed on the highest points in the area, to guarantee a stable connection for gateway deployment. This prevents reliance on unreliable GSM or WiFi line of sight connections. Based on our learnings from these two expeditions, we have designed a realistic plan to complete the coverage of Akagera National Park during another two expeditions in 2017.
1st Expedition – 4 days
During the first 4-day expedition, we have carried out a network survey. The purpose of this expedition was to survey, plan, map, and test several trial gateway positions. The expedition involved local transport, hiking, and the scouting of potential setups for the mounting and fitting of the solar-powered stations. We have also identified the best procedure to install the location trackers on vehicles and other sensor applications.
2nd Expedition – 10 days
During the second expedition, we have installed 9 gateways in Akagera National Park. With this set-up, we have been able to cover approximately 50% of the park. We have also completed the integration of our solution into the park’s Control Room.
We are very happy to report that the local staff is now trained to apply our technology solutions. By contuining this project, we hope to reach even higher levels of efficiency through the acceleration of more smart grid deployment.
3rd & 4th Expedition – 5 days
To cover the whole 1200 km2 Akagera National Park area, our intention is to realise 20 gateways. The third expedition we have planned will cover the whole area using five extra high radio towers. The fourth expedition will have the purpose to increase the density of the network coverage in the North of Akagera National Park, since that is where most wild life is present.