Unleashing the Power of the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) in Wildlife Law Enforcement

Unleashing the Power of the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) in Wildlife Law Enforcement
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With growing sophistication of organized wildlife crimes, wildlife law enforcement agencies need to be armed with cutting-edge technologies like the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) to stay ahead of the criminals. 'Internet of Things' is a network of interconnected devices, objects or systems that are embedded with software, sensors and network connectivity which allows them to collect, exchange and act upon those data, often without any human intervention.

By harnessing the capabilities of 'Internet of Things', wildlife law enforcement agencies can revolutionize their fight to counter the wildlife crimes. For willdife law enforcement, 'Internet of Things' can be leveraged in following ways to further strengthen the monitoring of wildlife, detection of threats and response by enforcement officials:

  • Law enforcement agencies can track the movement of protected wildlife species in real time by outfitting them with GPS enabled collars which sends signals to the centralized monitoring centre which is also connected with the regional monitoring centres & GPS enabled patrolling vehicles. Similarly Geo-Fencing Technology can be utilized by willdife law enforcement to create virtual boundaries around the potected areas. This may generate alerts whenever any protected wildlife species crosses the predefined areas. Crossing the predefined protected areas makes them vulnerable to poaching. This may also lead to human-wildlife conflict and retaliatory killing of protected wildlife. After getting alerts, enforcement officials may take suitable action to bring the wildlife back to predefined areas and avert the poaching or human-wildlife conflict.
  • Wildlife law enforcement agencies can place IoT enabled cameras equipped with artificial intelligence, facial recognition system, motion sensors, thermal imaging etc. on strategic locations inside and outside the wildlife protected areas. These smart cameras can automatically detect & capture images of suspected poachers, movement of wildlife and transmit the data in real time to the enforcement officials enabling them to take swift action to prevent poaching and other related activities.
  • Environmental Sensors may also provide valuable insights to the wildlife law enforcement agencies about the wildlife habitats by monitoring environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, air quality etc. that may help in identifying the changes which may be indicating of illegal logging, habitat destruction or poaching.
  • Drones equipped with IoT capabilities can be leveraged by wildlife enforcement agencies for conducting aerial surveys, monitoring of large & remote areas, capturing of high resolution images & videos of suspected activities in and around protected wildlife habitats and sharing them in real time with nearest patrol team for taking timely decision and action.
  • Wildlife law enforcement agencies can also deploy IoT enabled Acoustic Sensors with advanced algorithms to monitor and analyze different types of sounds including distress calls of wildlife, gunshots, vehicle engines etc. to detect potential threats and responding quickly to those threats.

Benefits of leveraging IoT for willdife law enforcement can be summarized as follows:

  • Continuous and real-time monitoring of wildlife habitat by IoT ecosystem enables law enforcement in timely detection of suspicious activities. It also substantially reduce the response time and increases the likelihood of prevention of poaching and apprehending the poachers.
  • The data collected by various devices interconnected on IoT ecosystem can help wildlife enforcement officials in taking data-driven decisions. This data-driven approach is crucial for allocation of resources, deployment of patrolling vehicles etc. for their effective & optimal utilization.
  • IoT ecosystem also provides solution to the problem of detrimenal impact of unplanned manned patrolling on wildlife habitat as it minimizes the need for regular physical presence which causes disturbances to wildlife and their habitat.
  • IoT based surveillance system also act as a deterrent for potential poachers as they know that wildlife protected areas are under constant monitoring and the probability of them getting caught by enforcement officials is very high due to real time data sharing by the devices connected on IoT with the strategically placed patrol teams.

However, IoT based ecosystem also poses challenges with regard to data privacy and security as they are vulnerable to hacking if proper security measures are not in place. Such hacking of IoT may prove disastrous for wildlife. Regular security audit & penetration testing, using Firewalls & Intrusion Detection Systems, encrypted communication between devices of IoT, using strong passwords & multi-factor authentication etc. are some of the measures needed to significantly reduce the risk of hacking of IoT based wildlife monitoring & surveillance system.

In a nutshell, integration of the IoT technology into wildlife law enforcement is a significant step forward in combating the menace of wildlife crimes. New innovations in artificial intelligence & machine learning are expected to further increase the analytical capabilities of IoT based system which will enable enforcement officials for more accurate detection of poaching & other threats to wildlife and enhance their response to those threats.

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