LoRaWAN: IoT Keeps Track of Reindeer in Finland

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LoRaWAN: IoT Keeps Track of Reindeer in Finland

Finnish reindeer herders are testing a LoRaWAN-based solution from Digita and Actility on several dozen alpha female reindeer, in order to track herds of thousands of animals and detect when they may be in danger from predators or vehicles. The Finnish Reindeer Herders Association (FRHA) is currently testing an Internet of Things (IoT)-based solution to monitor the location and well-being of their reindeer herds.

The low-range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) and GPS-enabled trackers on some reindeer, together with Actility software to manage the location data, triggers an alert if a herd is thought to be at risk, such as if they suddenly start running, run long distances or even cease moving entirely. Mapping software company Mapitare Oy is providing high-resolution maps for use offline on mobile devices.

Reindeer in Finland are raised for meat, fur and antler products. They travel a wide area to graze in that country—up to 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) of wild territory within a single day, though the average daily travel is less than that. Because of this wide grazing range, it is impossible for herders to watch them all day, and so the animals sometimes can be difficult to locate. They can be vulnerable to wild animal attacks or simply wander out of the expected territory. For this reason, the FRHA reports, up to 10 percent of the animals’ annual value can be lost each year. There are 300,000 reindeer and about 4,400 reindeer owners in Finland.

The FRHA began investigating a technology-based solution for tracking animals about a decade ago, and implemented a GPS-based system. Three years ago, it released a smartphone app known as Porokello (Finnish for “reindeer bell”) that allowed drivers to indicate when they see a reindeer wandering near the road using their Smartphones.

“This allows reindeer owners to go to view a deceased member of their herd as soon as possible,” says according to Matti Särkelä, the office head of the Reindeer Herders’ Association. “To capture evidence of predator attacks. Additionally, they can seek compensation from the government when it can be proven that a predator has killed a reindeer.” However, VHF technology requires that antennas be installed in all the areas of interest, and this can make it challenging to monitor every animal’s location.

Author: Tim Cole
Image Credit: Paliskuntain Yhdistys

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