The world is in the midst of a wildlife crisis. In recent years, over 100,000 elephants, rhinos and other endangered species were killed.
Wildlife crimes – including trafficking in ivory and rhino horns – have skyrocketed, threatening the economic viability of many African countries. At the same time, the U.N. Secretary General, national governments and independent NGOs have drawn direct links between wildlife crimes and transnational criminal networks, insurgencies and terrorist organizations.
Smart Savannahs is an initiative from Linköping University, as a technical demonstrator of research performed within the strategic research environment Security Link www.security-link.se. The demonstrator is being deployed in Ngulia www.projectngulia.org, while development and tests will first be performed at Kolmården Zoo. The software platform consists of a smartphone app for the rangers, and a backend solution accessible from for instance a tablet for the commanders and researchers.
The app is both a communication device and an input device for the rangers where they report animal observations and indications of intrusion. The backend solution is a surveillance monitor, and an administrative tool for the commanders. Sensor systems will complement the software platform with situational awareness information.
The ultimate goal is to provide a widely accepted and appreciated security level to the parks and sanctuaries that will scare away potential poachers. If a poacher comes anyway, the border protection system will prevent the poacher to enter the secured area, and if the poacher still is able to pass the border, the surveillance system will track the motion of the poacher, and countermeasures can be taken.
The work with protecting the endangered animals has been ongoing since 2014 and the project has been taken up in the Clinton Global Initiative. There is also a Memorandum of understanding with the Kenyan authority, Kenya Wildlife Service.
Technical tests in Kolmårdens zoo have been carried out on a continuous basis. The software is developed by Linköping University and the companies iHub and HiQ in Kenya are responsible for design, user interface and education.
One of the goals is that the project can be scaled up and replicated in other parks and countries.
Wildlife Security was launched as an initiative within the strategic research center Security Link at Linköping University, initiated by Professor Fredrik Gustafsson, Linköping University and Johan Bergenäs, Stimson Center.