Internet of Things: Survival of Harbour Seals

The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St. Andrews will conduct a study on the decline of harbour seals population in the Scottish archipelago.  Using telemetry tags affixed to the fur at the back of their heads, the seals will transmit their location, dive behaviours, and oceanic environment back to Vodafone’s M2M network.  This allows for improved data gathering by monitoring multiple SIM cards from a single remote PC.

Initiated by the Scottish Natural Heritage, and in partnership with Vodafone, this project aims to further Scottish marine policies, formulate mitigation options, and prioritize research on the survival of the harbour seals.  According to Dr. Bernie McConnell, Deputy Director of the SMRU, the number of harbour seals in the Northern Isles and Scottish archipelago has declined by up to 90 percent over the last 15 years.  Professor John Baxter, Principal Adviser for Marine at the Scottish Natural Heritage, added that the study will help researchers understand the factors that drive the population of Scottish harbour seals.

The private sector is increasingly looking to capitalise on this application of the IoT, too. Vodafone has devoted significant resources to promote Nb-IoT (Narrowband-Internet of Things), a radio technology that connects physical devices, such as the SIM cards in the telemetry tags, to allow low cost, low battery consumption while transmitting data between devices. In Australia, Intergrid, a datacentre provider, is also researching how a distributed cloud platform could impact endangered terrestrial species.

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