Celium- nature’s internet
Encounter Solutions Ltd (ESL) developed Celium®, a unique low power wireless sensor network designed with wide scale wildlife management applications in mind. The system works by securing small Celium nodes to traps. Traps can be located in remote areas even if there is no cell phone coverage.
When traps are sprung, the nodes transmit data to a small central base station. The base station then sends this data into ESL’s cloud servers via satellite. Users can then see which traps need visiting using their cell phones or computers.
To expand the reach of Celium we will develop the system so it can communicate with animal tracking transmitters in the field. When a node senses a transmitter signal, this information will be sent in real-time and the tracked animal can then be located. Celium, deployed over large areas for cost effective predator control, combined with the ability to monitor the species being protected at the same time, is a game changer in helping make NZ predator free.
What conservation problem are you trying to solve?
We need integrated technological solutions for species protection in New Zealand. Tech needs to be multi-functional in order to lower the cost and bring more efficiency to field projects. Current radio transmitters require considerable labour resources to determine critical information such as species dispersal out of protected areas or animal mortality. We need an integrated approach for trapping and species monitoring which gives us vital real-time information but is also cost effective.
How are you going to solve this conservation problem?
Current practices for locating animals with radio transmitters requires people to seek out transmitter signals using a directional antenna. They also must be in close proximity to the animal to pick up the signal. Often people have to travel through difficult terrain and it can be very labour-intensive depending on the size of the area.Developing Celium to monitor existing animal transmitters, will make it a multi-functional platform capable of monitoring both traps and transmitters. When an animal comes within a specified distance from the node, the node will send location and other biometric information that the transmitter collects through the Celium system to the user. Mortality signals could also be transmitted giving managers an indication that a predator may be in the area and they can act accordingly. If Celium could also act as a listening device, the system would drastically decrease the amount of time required to be in the field searching for animals with transmitters.
What makes your idea new and unique?
Developing a technology that combines both predator control and species monitoring has not been done before. It unites two traditionally separate systems into one cost effective, low maintenance solution. Celium is already very unique as it is making pest management accessible and realistic for more people by automating a highly labour intensive process. This integrated system will drastically decrease the time required in the field to get real-time day-to-day animal location and trapping data.
Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?
Anyone involved in trapping or animal tracking can use this technology- community groups, private landowners and regional councils. The smartphone application brings an interactive element that will encourage the younger generation to also take part. It is invaluable to know day-to-day movements of animals under protection. By analyzing this data, we can learn new ways to protect populations and even remotely determine if there are enough individuals in an area to allow for reproduction.
What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?
Celium already has the basic infrastructure to act as a listening devices for radio transmitters. The main tasks which need investment is the development of the data management system and the interactive smartphone application for users to view the real-time location data and alerts. The $25,000 would be spent on software development, the backend data management system and trialling the system in the field once development is complete.
Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?
List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?
Immersive Conservation- It is crucial to bring more innovation to the classroom. To have the ability to engage students in conservation, when leaving the classroom isn’t feasible, is really important. I like the synergy between CatchIT Schools programme and I think there could be an interesting way to collaborate with Celium, e.g. incorporating real-time trapping data.
Traps, Rats and Stats – a trapping programme for school children: Powerful programme to get more kids involved in trapping. I like that they have a vision to roll this out nationally. It is a perfect platform for motivating kids to take part in trapping.
River Watch Water Testing Device- Any tool that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of water monitoring is critical for NZ. Access to comprehensive data sets on water quality for both laypeople and regional council staff will help bring about more awareness of water quality issues and ultimately improve management decisions.
Stop Kauri Dieback – helping to save our Kauri- Improving access to information on kauri dieback is a critical step in building knowledge around the disease and helping to make better management decisions. Doing this in an interactive and innovative way will be very powerful.
Wild about NZ Wildlife- We need to come up with innovative ways to be more resourceful and more effective with limited fund. The portable aviaries do just that.
How could you improve your idea?
Ideally we want to develop our own transmitters. The current project will be developing Celium to work with current transmitters that are being used in the field. We intend to design our own transmitters that work seamlessly with the Celium network. This way we can develop transmitters with the latest technology but also ensure the system works with already existing technology. We can also develop transmitters with a range of species in mind to make it a truly flexible platform. Continuous refinement of the algorithms which are used to collect, manage and transmit data will be required. We will also need to refine and further develop the user app and interface to create a more immersive experience for users and even school programmes. We ideally want to get schools and community groups more involved in Celium and there are numerous innovative ways to do this with our system!