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Tracking Animals with SMS

Tracking Animals with SMS
Oftentimes, we think of the conservation of the old as incongruous with the use of newer technology like mobile devices. This is far from the case; in fact, GPS technology is being combined with text messaging to track both wildlife and livestock, a useful tool to keep an eye on both the farm animals we depend on and the increasing number of endangered or threatened species.

One device conservationalists are using to keep tabs on wildlife is cellular GPS collars. Cellular collars are affixed to animals, which then use GPS to calculate the animal's coordinates. This information is relayed to researchers via SMS. The frequency of text message updates can be controlled by the researchers. When an animal wearing a collar moves out of cellular range, a beacon transmitter is automatically activated, using radio tracking to monitor the animal's location.

These devices offer a few extra features that take advantage of SMS. Researchers can designate zones on the map, such as a normal zone for the animal, and abnormal zones as well as urgent danger zones. If an animal leaves the normal zone, researchers can receive a text, and if an animal enters emergency zones, researchers can receive both an SMS and a missed call.

Additionally, researchers can use text messaging to control the device. The collar employs two-way texting so that researchers can send an SMS to a specific collar requesting an animal's location at that time. The device will then send a text to the researcher detailing that animal's most recent location.

SMS is also being used for more specific projects, such as in efforts to combat elephant poaching in Kenya. This undertaking by the Kenya Wildlife Service uses the fences around parks and wildlife sanctuaries they have established, which are sensitive to any kind of unauthorized tinkering. The fences can detect any interference, be it from an animal or a person, and trigger a loud alarm at any disruption as well as an SMS to the security switchboard showing the location of the breach. This acts both as a deterrent to elephants that may escape safety or humans who pose a danger to threatened elephants, as well as a means of potentially tracking down poachers.

Similar SMS animal tracking technology is also used to protect livestock. A notable example is a 2012 pilot of Swiss sheep herds, in which sheep were given heart monitors. In the face of a wolf attack, the heart monitors detected a significant enough elevation in heart rate to trigger, using technology that has been conceived but not yet completed, the release of a repellant from the sheep's collars as well as a text message to the shepherd to alert them immediately of the situation.

With the growing threat many species face ever imminent, and with so many societies depending on their livestock for numerous important goods, protecting our animals wild and domestic alike is an important project. With the aid of text messaging and its wide range of applications to new technologies, SMS and related developments hold great promise for this important prerogative.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net


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