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IoT fights rhino poachers

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is being used to help predict threats and combat the poaching of endangered rhinos.

IBM IoT technology is being used by MTN, Wageningen University (WU) of the Netherlands, and Prodapt, as part of the MTN Connected Wildlife Solution at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa.

It is intended to expand the solution to other reserves in future.

Today South Africa is home to more than 70 percent of the world’s remaining rhino population. Conservationists are battling to protect the dwindling number of these iconic animals that are being killed for their highly-prized horns. Over the past decade, more than 7 000 rhinos were killed across the African continent and in 2016, 1 054 were reported killed in South Africa alone.

“One of our primary objectives is to protect wildlife, especially endangered species. We were looking for a solution that would help us better understand possible threats and weed out those coming from poachers so we can react ahead of time and prevent harm to animals,” said Bradley Schroder, Chief Executive Officer of Welgevonden Game Reserve. “This project will be a profound breakthrough in the creation of connected wildlife solutions, a wildlife management concept that aims to harness IoT technology to better manage and protect wildlife and other assets.”

Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa is tracking the behavior patterns of animals such as zebra, impala, eland and wildbeest to detect poaching activity . The new IoT powered solution developed by IBM, MTN and Wageningen University collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel along with other data. (Credit: IBM)

Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa is tracking the behavior patterns of animals such as zebra, impala, eland and wildbeest to detect poaching activity . The new IoT powered solution developed by IBM, MTN and Wageningen University collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel along with other data. (Credit: IBM)

This new predictive capability stems from research performed by Wageningen University.  Ranked the best university in the Netherlands for 12 straight years, the university features an animal sciences group focused on research and education related to the health and welfare of animals and people. According to research conducted on Welgevonden Game Reserve, prey-animals in the wild react in different ways, depending on the type of threat they encounter and the perceived danger from predators such as lion and leopard or the presence of people in the vicinity.

This research has been combined with MTN’s Connected Wildlife Solution which leverages IBM’s IoT technology and the university’s predictive analytics, to create an innovative solution that gives game reserves a powerful new tool in the fight to save endangered species. Protecting the rhinos begins with fitting collars containing custom sensors onto prey-animals including zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala, which will transmit data about their behavior to the IoT platform.

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University's IoT powered solution fits animals such as zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala with custom made sensors which will transmit data on their behavior to the IoT platform. As a result, plains game such as the zebra, act as sentinels and their response patterns provide an early warning in the battle to save endangered rhinos. (Credit: IBM)

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University’s IoT powered solution fits animals such as zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala with custom made sensors which will transmit data on their behavior to the IoT platform. As a result, plains game such as the zebra, act as sentinels and their response patterns provide an early warning in the battle to save endangered rhinos. (Credit: IBM)

The data collected from the LoRa sensors is communicated via the LoRa WAN Network Server (LRSC – Long Range Signal & Control) and backhauled over the MTN 3G/4G network.

Through the platform, the solution collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel, along with other data. The data is used by Wageningen University to create approximately 20 rule-based patterns based on the animals’ response to threats. As a result, animals such as zebra will act as sentinels with their response patterns becoming an early warning system to protect the rhinos.

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University use an IoT powered solution that gives Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, a powerful tool in the fight to save endangered Rhinos. The solution uses the threat response patterns of other animals such as zebra, wildbeest, impala and eland, as an early warning signal, without divulging the precise location of the rhino. (Credit: IBM)

IBM, MTN and Wageningen University use an IoT powered solution that gives Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, a powerful tool in the fight to save endangered Rhinos. The solution uses the threat response patterns of other animals such as zebra, wildbeest, impala and eland, as an early warning signal, without divulging the precise location of the rhino. (Credit: IBM)

The predictive nature of this solution takes away the reliance on game reserve teams to be in the right place at the right time, or to respond to events, such as the distant sound of gunfire; and the teams can take proactive action that keeps rhinos safe.

“Over the years, we have seen that animal tracking technology has been used reactively in game reserves,” says Mariana Kruger, General Manager at MTN Business. “Welgevonden needed a more proactive solution to take the fight to protect the rhinos further. With the solution designed for Welgevonden, MTN, along with our partners, can better predict and anticipate potential poaching activity. This allows the ranger to take pre-emptive action before any threat happens.”

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Welgevonden Game Reserve was chosen for its specialist wildlife management expertise, its well-known research and development capabilities as well as its excellent reputation in rhino protection. “Welgevonden is one of the best managed game reserves in the world and we need such skills to ensure the success of a project of this nature,” says Prof Herbert Prins of Wageningen University.

“The Internet of Things is changing the way we live and work, and we are finding new applications for IBM’s IoT technologies in businesses across the spectrum,” says Hamilton Ratshefola, Country General Manager for IBM South Africa. “Now we’re helping curb rhino poaching and preserve endangered species on the African continent. IBM’s IoT solutions enable businesses to solve industry specific problems and transform their companies and industries.”

MTN is an emerging innovator in the Internet of Things, with hundreds of clients across 22 countries. MTN is building an ecosystem of vertical partners and an ecosystem of over 3 million active M2M connections. Together these connected devices, sensors and systems provide insight whilst solving real business challenges around the continent.

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IBM’s IoT technology features powerful cognitive computing capabilities that don’t merely gather and predict but truly understand the patterns and relationships in the massive amounts of data being collected by the sensors in field. Today, IBM is an established leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) with more than 6 000 client engagements in 170 countries, a growing ecosystem of over 1 400 partners and more 750 IoT patents which together help to draw actionable insight from billions of connected devices, sensors and systems around the world.

In the future, the aim is for the technology to be made available for deployment at game reserves across Africa and abroad.  Learn more about Welgevonden’s Connected Wildlife journey: https://youtu.be/E9olFUDD_2M.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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