Globalstar IoT solution protects Norway’s reindeer from train collisions
(24 October 2017 - Globalstar Europe Satellite Services) Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar and the leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, announced today that its technology is at the heart of the SaveMyReindeer solution.
Developed by specialist animal tracking provider, FindMy, this IoT solution is designed to prevent trains from colliding with reindeer in Norway’s hinterland.
Hundreds of kilometres of Norway’s railroads, reaching inside the Arctic Circle, traverse territories inhabited by the region’s indigenous Sami people, for whom keeping herds of reindeer as livestock has for millennia been central to their culture and economy. These animals roam free, often migrating into Sweden and Finland.
Each year, trains kill about 6,500 of the Nordic region’s 600,000 reindeer, with an estimated loss of €8.5 million of livestock. In 2016 the Norwegian mapping authority, Kartverket, sought a solution as part of its annual hackathon series. FindMy emerged the winner and SaveMyReindeer was developed as a proof of concept.
FindMy, formerly known as FindMySheep, uses the Globalstar network and STX3 chipset for its animal tracking collars and services, including SaveMyReindeer.
SaveMyReindeer uses data from the Norwegian Railway Directorate on the real-time location of each train combined with open data from Kartverket to create a moving geo-fence 40-50 km around the train. By comparing the geo-fence area with GPS data from FindMy collars already keeping tabs on reindeer, the system warns train drivers when they are approaching the animals so they can either accelerate to get out of the herd’s way, slow down or stop the train. The reindeer owner simultaneously receives an alert on their smartphone warning them that their animals may be in danger, giving them the opportunity to move the herd out of harm’s way.
Because reindeer are herd animals, any collision with a train can injure as many as 50 of them at a time. Train conductors are authorised to carry guns to humanely kill any seriously hurt animals, but soon this will no longer be the case. Now, local authorities will be dispatched to deal with injured animals. With SaveMyReindeer, Globalstar’s satellite network will give these agencies the precise GPS location of the incident so they can reach the location quickly.
As well as fewer reindeer deaths, preventing collisions reduces the impact of trauma on train staff and improves the reliability of the train service. The SaveMyReindeer system is now being considered for testing elsewhere on the Norwegian national railroad system.
FindMy and Kartverket are also considering how this system could make Norway’s highways safer. The solution could feed warnings to smart signs – live electronic displays which indicate optimal speed limits based on current weather conditions and traffic, and which mitigate the dangers of animals roaming onto highways.
“Reindeer husbandry is an ancient and important element of Norway’s economy and also hugely significant in the culture of our indigenous people,” said Kristin Skjerven, Senior Advisor with Kartverket. “FindMy’s IoT solutions are already proven in protecting sheep and cattle and SaveMyReindeer holds even more potential to prevent needless incidents, while helping the nation’s railway users suffer fewer disruptions and improving train staff welfare.”
Halvor Mjoen, Founder of FindMy, said: “When designing SaveMyReindeer, we knew that only satellite would give us the reach we needed in remote regions. Other requirements were low power consumption and minimal maintenance since reindeer live outdoors year-round. Low cost was also a key requirement to drive higher volumes of collars, and allows us to develop new international markets - Globalstar plays a big part in making all of this possible. Moreover, we have only just scratched the surface as to how IoT can be used; we believe there will be many more meaningful and practical applications.”
FindMy was originally established as FindMySheep, a tracking collar system using Globalstar technology to protect free roaming sheep. FindMySheep deployments have since increased to over 30,000 units, with 85% worn by sheep, with the remainder protecting reindeer and cattle in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
With hundreds of sheep going missing each year, in 2012 the Norwegian government part-funded an initiative to track farmers’ livestock so they could understand what is driving the disappearance of the animals and eliminate any foul play. This funding enabled Findmysheep AS, a Globalstar Value Added Reseller, to develop its tracking collar, with a back-office application that enables the farmer to visualise the whereabouts of the animals at any given time.
Globalstar is a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services, leveraging the world’s most modern mobile satellite communications network. Customers around the world in industries like government, emergency management, marine, logging, oil & gas and outdoor recreation rely on Globalstar to conduct business smarter and faster, maintain peace of mind and access emergency personnel. Globalstar data solutions are ideal for various asset and personal tracking, data monitoring and SCADA applications. The Company's products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, the innovative Sat-Fi satellite hotspot, Simplex and Duplex satellite data modems, tracking devices and flexible service packages.