The power management is a key challege for the GPS trackers that are used to locate the herds that can travel up to 40km a day. The trackers, fitted to the alpha female of the herd, link to a wide area LoRaWAN network run by Digita using technology from Actility. The trackers have to last for at least a year as the herds only come together twice a year for the sensors to be recharged.
The basestations are fitted to Digita's TV masts to achieve the long range coverage across the forests and tundra, receiving the location data from the trackers. This maximizes the battery life, and reduces costs as there is no need for cellular subscriptions for every device.
The pilot study began in June, and this September around 50 trackers were fitted on selected animals. “This tracking solution brings real benefits for the reindeer and for our herders,” says Matti Särkelä, who is Head of Office at the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association in Rovaniemi. “The main challenge is that today’s sensors are still quite large. We need a sensor that lasts for a year, at a low cost, and improved location technology – it can be hard to get good GPS signals in the high Arctic. We’re working now on finding the best technology mix and getting the best sensor, with the innovative Finnish LoRa ecosystem that’s building around Digita. For example, our mapping and visualisation software comes from Mapitare, a Finnish start-up that began creating offline-enabled maps for the emergency services.”
“The combination of the latest IoT technology with hundreds of years of tradition is unique in our experience. And it’s a great experiment with much wider implications – if you can track reindeer in those conditions, then you can track anything, anywhere,” said Mike Mulica, CEO of Actility.