Tracking Bighorn Sheep in the Mohave Desert

bighorn_gps_trackingApparently, it is flu season for more than just the human population! Animals get sick too! Right now, the bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert are coming down with a fatal case of pneumonia. Experts are trying to determine how bad it actually is, so they’re employing the use of both GPS trackers and helicopters to help the sheep.

The project will cost $48,000, and will hopefully keep the herds of sheep safe from disease. There are over 100 of the animals currently, and the strain of pneumonia has wiped out two entire herds. That’s bad news.

Solving The Mystery

Rangers aren’t sure what is causing the pneumonia outbreak. One theory is that wild sheep are being infected by domestic sheep. If a domestic sheep is ill and mixes with a wild population, the wild sheep can become sick.

Both the ‘California Department of Fish and Wildlife’ and the ‘National Park Service’ hope that the GPS trackers and helicopter survey can bring some answers. The study will take place over a period of four days beginning this Sunday, and officials are hoping it will put an end to this pneumonia outbreak.

The Study

The helicopters will take to the skies above the roughly 80,430 acres of desert to find the herds of bighorns, concentrating on areas where sick or dead animals have been discovered. The National Park Service will pick up the tab for the helicopters, which can fly for seven hours per day. The cost for tho is a whopping $1,600 per hour!

When a sheep is discovered, the helicopter will fly low and shoot a net meant to capture the animal. On board, they’ll blindfold the captured sheep to keep it calm, restrain its legs so no one is injured, collect blood samples, take a nasal swab, and affix a GPS tracker. Afterward, the animal will be released back into the desert.

In all, 54 GPS trackers will be employed. If the GPS tracker senses the animal isn’t moving, an alert will be initiated stating the animal has died so that researchers can head to its location to take further samples. The collars will remain operational for about four years.

Getting Answers

The team collaring the animals consists of biologists, veterinarians, and others to aid in their capture. The veterinarian will make the decision regarding what should be done with an animal. Healthy sheep will receive GPS trackers, while sick animals will be put down for immediate autopsy.

No one really knows how many have died. These animals are quite nomadic, moving from location to location based on water sources. This time of year, there are more areas water is available, so the herds tend to spread out over a large distance. Officials knew they had a problem on their hands when they found the first of the dead sheep in mid-May.

Half of the herd roaming the Old Dad Mountain area have died. The disease was found to have spread in August to the Marble Mountains. It has been confirmed that both herds in each location were afflicted with the same strain of pneumonia.

While bighorns are susceptible to this disease, humans cannot be infected.

While you probably don’t need to worry about tracking an animal population in order to save them, there is most certainly an aspect of your life that could use a GPS tracker. Contact us today to determine the perfect solution for you!

A Drone Contest to End Poaching

drone_wildlife_contestWatch out, poachers. Things are about to get dangerous for you! Kashmir Robotics is offering up a big prize to the next person to design a drone tasked with flying above South Africa’s ‘Kruger National Park.’ Why?

To keep an eye out for poachers. What prize are they offering? Well, how about a 10-day excursion at the park along with $25,000? Sound good?

Protecting Wildlife

The drones will patrol the skies above the park in order to keep an eye on all species, some endangered, that wander the park each day. These animals are susceptible to poachers, who often conduct illegal in remote areas that are hard for park rangers to access. Without the drones, it is almost impossible to safeguard the extremely rare white rhino and other endangered species.

Yes, there are other ways park officials have kept an eye on the creatures and captured poachers at the same time, but the problem hasn’t gone away entirely.

Some researchers have implanted GPS tracker chips in the horns of the rhinos, which is what the poachers are after. They can sell for up to $300,000 in some locations. Others rely on game cameras, set up in places the animals are known to roam. GPS trackers have been placed on elephants, who are hunted for their ivory tusks too. GPS trackers help, but drones bring the kind of eye-in-the-sky monitoring that’s needed.

Drones Are The Answer

Officials would like to look into the use of drones to put an end to poaching. Drones can reach places rangers just can’t, and they keep rangers safe from poachers with sharp weapons. The drones fly above ground, transmitting pictures to the rangers who are somewhere safe, watching the footage as it is being captured.

The only problem with using drones is the cost. These drones can cost more than $4 million per device! Yikes!

The Contest

The true goal of the drone designing contest is to create a drone that is affordable.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each team can be no more than five people in size. It doesn’t matter who you are – even high school students can enter. A team can also employ the assistance of up to two academic or professional advisors.
  2. The drone, complete with GPS tracker technology, and the associated software can only cost up to $3,000.

Once successful, wildlife organizations charged with protecting endangered species will have an extremely powerful tool in their arsenal to combat poaching. The hope is to end this kind of brutal killing altogether.

Do you have what it takes to create the next GPS tracker guided drone? Gather your team and get to work! The deadline for entry is December 1, 2013. The grand prize will be awarded on October 4, 2014.

GPS Keeps Open Spaces, Well, Open!

waterfall_tracking_gpsEach state in the U.S. has beautiful spaces that exist for the public to enjoy, whether recreational land or protected wildlife habitats. It is important to designate these spaces accurately, especially in areas where hunting season is taken seriously.

But how can you ensure that you’re mapping the boundaries to these protected spaces accurately? With GPS trackers, of course.

Mount Olive Township

Mount Olive Township in New Jersey is looking to designate land set aside for recreation and protected land as accurately as possible. Naturally, they turned to GPS trackers to get the job done right!

The township received a $10,000 grant via Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program on October 4, ensuring they can cover the expenses. The most expensive item related to the project: the $5,680 they have to pay their planner to conduct the research into easements.

The Project

Easements tell people what public land can be used for, whether open space or recreation. The GPS tracker will be used to mark precise easement locations. This will allow the public to figure out what they can and can’t do within a specific space quickly and easily. Additionally, the authorities will be better able to punish those using the space illegally.

Once the GPS tracker maps the easements and they are recorded, the public will be able to log on to a website to view the information. To further ensure the public is using the land as they should, part of the grant will be used to educate the public.

This project was initiated mainly to protect conservation lands, ensuring that the balance of nature is not disturbed by the public conducting illegal activity. The township planner, Charles McGroarty, points to areas that used to be part of a trail system but are now conservation areas as an example.

Worldwide Movement

And it isn’t just the US that sees the value of using GPS mapping to protect the environment! In Indonesia, surveyors are using GPS trackers to map a forest area near their small village in order to keep the land away from special interests that seek to destroy the precious resources the land provides.

When the surveyors come across any form of landmark — a rock, a waterfall, a river — they mark it on the GPS tracker. The idea is to accurately map the forests belonging to their village to offer some form of official proof in the event someone tries to get their hands on the land, like palm oil companies and logging or mining operations.

Currently, no maps or ownership information exists. These GPS tracker-derived maps provide something physical that village officials can sign in order to prove their ownership. The mapping also helps them protect the forests and all of its inhabitants.

Mapping land with a GPS tracking device is an effective way to provide precise boundaries. As more begin to turn to this technology, it’s safe to say we can keep our environmentally protected spaces safe for future generations to enjoy! If you need to map or track some land, we have a GPS tracker for that! Contact us for details.

 

Photo By E Photos Via Flickr Creative Commons

Thieves Steal Large Amounts of Oxycontin – Laced With GPS Trackers!

thieves_pills_gpsPolice all over the world are using GPS trackers to nab all different types of criminals. Whether they’re after crooks that steal copper or smartphones and tablets, there’s a tracker for that!

But here’s a new idea implemented by police forces all over the United States: the pill bottle tracker. Wait – why would police want to track a pill bottle? There’s a good reason! Really!

The Issue

Prescription drug addiction is a big problem all over the United States, and it’s only getting worse. The CDC states that death due to drug overdose rates since 1990 have more than tripled, and that 100 people are the victim of drug overdoses each and every day.

Pills are easy for people to steal, too – especially when it comes to teens. Teens can usually find what they’re looking for in a medicine cabinet. But, when pills aren’t plentiful, theft is the next best option.

Solution: GPS Trackers

Police from many areas of the country have relied on GPS trackers concealed in a pill bottle to capture thieves who’ll stop at nothing to get a certain type of drug.

Most recently, the Detroit police captured four men in connection with a string of pharmacy robberies. What was the drug of choice? OxyContin. The men were seen exiting a pharmacy while police were patrolling the area (following reports of burglaries at two separate pharmacies). When the robbers saw police lights, they took off in two different vehicles.

After a high speed chase, police lost track of the thieves – but not really.

The thieves didn’t realize the oxycontin prescription they stole contained a small GPS tracker. Oops! You guessed it! Police hunted down the thieves in minutes.

How It Works

Pharmacies stock decoy pill bottles that only contain GPS trackers next to bottles containing real pills. When a thief demands drugs, the pharmacist hands over multiple bottles, one of them being the GPS tracker bottle. As soon as the tracking pill bottle is taken off the shelf, it begins to track. How is that possible? It rests in a base unit that senses when the bottle is removed! Amazing, right?

But wait, won’t the crook know immediately that something is amiss if he picks up that empty pill bottle? Not at all! The bottle is weighted, and when you shake it, it makes the familiar rattling sound a thief is looking for. Clever!

Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing OxyContin, developed the technology along with the NYPD. Police want to capture the thieves, but the real hope is that people will end their addiction to prescription pills altogether.

This technology is effective, and will hopefully spread throughout the US. What do you think about this revolutionary technology?

 

Photo By Charles Williams via Flickr Creative Commons

GPS is Changing the Game For Kenya’s Wildlife

white_rhinos_gpsWe’ve talked about a variety of wildlife being monitored with GPS trackers. Whether it’s the urban fox population in Canada, wolves in California, or moose in Maine, GPS trackers are the best way to get accurate data about the habits of the animals. But in some cases, it just isn’t enough.

What about big game like the wildlife found in Kenya? The elephants and rhinos there are at a high risk of poaching. Each day in Africa, a total of 96 elephants are killed, and a rhino becomes a victim every 11 hours! Park rangers try their best to keep it from happening, but even the rangers are at risk: poachers have been known to kill rangers in order to avoid prosecution. In the past three years, poachers have killed 13 rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

It’s All About The Ivory

Referred to as “white gold” in China, ivory is the reason poachers seek out these endangered creatures. The rhinos are slaughtered for their horns, which sell on the black market for about $30,000 a pound according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Have a horn from a white rhino? Those sell for as much as $390,000!

Even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are standing behind Kenya with an initiative to put an end to illegal ivory once and for all, joining forces with the Wildlife Conservation Society in an $80 million dollar campaign.

The Problem

Both the U.S. and African governments possess seized ivory, but neither have plans to sell it. In fact, the U.S. planned on destroying the ivory they possess, all six tons of it, at the beginning of this month. However, the government shutdown postponed it until November 14. Kenya burns their seized ivory. Destroying and burning the ivory is supposed to be sending a message to poachers that it is worthless.

However, people in China find both the ivory and rhino horns to be extremely valuable. With the economy there thriving, more people have money to buy these illegal items. In Vietnam, there is a belief that rhino horns actually cure cancer. The issue lies in the fact that as the horns and ivory become more rare, the price will skyrocket, making it even more tempting for poachers.

Tools To Combat Poachers

So how are Kenyan conservationists fighting back? One tool in a ranger’s arsenal is a dog. Just as dogs in airports sniff baggage for drugs and weapons, Kenya Wildlife Services K-9 unit uses the dogs to seek out illegal ivory and rhino horns, each with their own distinct scent that the dog’s sensitive sense of smell can pick up on. The addition of the dogs to the team has helped them in their war on poachers, and a total of 39 people have been arrested of suspected poaching.

Other tools of the trade include high-tech items like night-vision goggles, helicopters, and GPS trackers. Although these tools can often catch the poachers in the act, it’s the poachers they aren’t catching that the dogs can. In the near future, Kenya will be implanting microchips with GPS tracking technology in the horns of every white rhino. Hopefully, this will help put an end to senseless rhino poaching.

 

Photo Courtesy of Abi Skipp Through Flickr Creative Commons

Kids in Denver Board Buses With GPS

gps_for_school_busesYou know that moment when your little one ventures off to school for the first time? You watch them step on that bus and drive off, wishing you could be there to make sure they get through the day okay. A big fear most parents have: their child will accidentally board the wrong bus at the end of the day and never make it home.

In Denver, Colorado, this occurs more frequently than you would think! How bad is it? Well, it’s a big enough problem to warrant a new GPS tracker that allows parents to see where the kids are in real time. It’s called the + Pass system, and both parents and students give it high marks.

How the + Pass System Works

Implemented at the start of the 2013 school year, this system has changed everything. Parents know where kids are while riding a bus, and privacy is kept private too. According to the FAQ, no data is stored regarding the students themselves except for the “time, date and location a student enters and exits the school bus.” What’s more, the bus is the only place the students can be located. There are no GPS trackers inside any of the district’s schools.

Simple For Kids to Use

It’s a cinch for kids to use on their own, something the bus drivers love! Students carry a + Pass card on them at all times. When they are boarding one of the district’s buses, they simply pull the card out and wave it in front of the + Pass card reader. They do the same when they get off of the bus. Once the card is read, the reader beeps, and a light changes from blue to green, visual confirmation the read was a success.

Each time the card is read, the GPS tracker transmits the time, date, and GPS location data to a secure database. Only those who work for the bus company, parents, and school officials are able to view data. Parents simply log onto a secure website in order to track a child’s movements. If they happen to get off at the wrong stop, parents can locate a kid quickly.

If your school district is hesitant to get on board, take matters into your own hands! Contact us to discuss the perfect tracker your child can carry to keep them safe when you can’t be there.

 

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons From KB35

Why NYC Taxis Need GPS

nyc_cabs_gpsWhen it comes to iconic transportation for those who need to get around New York City, nothing beats the good old taxi. The only problem with NYC cabbies is that drivers don’t have the best reputations with tourists and locals alike. But, that’s all about to change.

Changing The Game

Where drivers used to charge higher fares by entering higher meter rate codes, or take “the long way” when they knew their passenger was a tourist to push up the mileage and take advantage of these vulnerable people who simply don’t know any better, city officials have changed everything by implementing GPS trackers in cabs.

They’ve been rolling them out slowly over the past five years, with just over 13,000 GPS trackers in action to date.

Fed up with fraud by dishonest drivers, New York City officials figured this was the best way to face the issue and hold them all accountable. Not only has the program kept drivers more honest, it’s slowly winning over the masses, one customer at a time.

Drivers Against GPS

Of course, drivers weren’t pleased with the plan to implement the GPS trackers. And it wasn’t just due to privacy concerns, as one would expect. They also disagreed with the associated charges and cost for installation and monitoring. In September of 2007, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a strike that lasted two days in response to the plan.

Today, however, most drivers are willing to install the GPS trackers. Customers appreciate the handy devices, feeling more comfortable riding in a cab knowing that if there is a fare dispute, it can quickly be proven or disproven.

What Has The Program Done For The Taxi Industry?

Besides customers being much more satisfied and at ease when choosing to travel by taxi, a spokesman for the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission, Allan Fromberg, has confirmed that the data the GPS trackers collected provided crucial traffic information to agencies such as the ‘Department of Transportation.’ This data enabled the DOT to draft policies intended to help with traffic flow.

Fromberg pointed out another way GPS has improved service: it has reconnected passengers with items they’d left behind. In fact, he indicated that over half of the calls that come in have to do with forgotten items.

This use of GPS tracking technology points out many important reasons fleets should rely on GPS trackers installed in all vehicles. Besides keeping employees honest and increasing efficiency, there’s a more important reason: customer satisfaction and trust. Because a happy customer is a repeat customer!

Does your business use GPS trackers in its fleet vehicles? If the answer is ‘no’ and you are considering it, give us a call. We can connect you with the perfect solution!

GPS Leads Feds To Drug Trafficking Operation

heavenly_transport_drugsDrug trafficking is a big problem in the U.S. Whether drugs are coming from Canada or Mexico, many drug cartels are coming up with ways to sneak their goods across borders undetected.

In 2005, a tunnel was discovered from Canada to the US. A thrown-together hut covered the entrance on the Canadian side, with the other end emerging into a living room inside of a residence in the U.S.

Tunnels have been attempted in Mexico as well, like last year’s that started in Mexico and ended up in Arizona. But the process of building a tunnel to smuggle drugs can be quite costly, not to mention dangerous. It’s safe to say this method is not for everyone!

The Old Fashioned Way

Others prefer to rely on the old fashioned smuggling method: a vehicle. Over the weekend, a trucking company owner was arrested for doing just that, caught in an unexpected way. How? The GPS tracker that was attached to his truck, of course!

Javier Casas, owner of Heavenly Transport, was arrested on October 25th for knowingly sending his employees to transport shipments of marijuana all over the northern United States.

How They Caught Him

Homeland Security was on the job after they stopped one of Heavenly Transport’s employees, Mathew Luna, for a routine border patrol check at the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint. The truck was supposed to be carrying a load of office furniture to Kentwood, Michigan, but the officers quickly discovered roughly 400 pounds of marijuana contained inside of duffel bags hidden throughout the harmless cargo.

During questioning by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Luna broke down and spilled the details. He gave the names of both Casas and his sister as the owners of the truck, as well as the address Luna picked the truck up all loaded, which just happened to be a ranch belonging to both Casas and his sister.

Did He Know What He Was Carrying?

Most definitely. He told Immigration and Customs officers that the load was supposed to be office furniture, but Casas had asked him to take the duffel bags full of drugs along as well. He added that he did not know what drugs were contained in the bag, that Casas did not specify, and Luna didn’t inquire.

Apparently the final destination for the drugs wasn’t Michigan, just the office furniture. Casas asked Luna to meet up with him in Austin to unload the duffel bags, and then transport the furniture to its final destination in Kentwood. Casas promised Luna $2,500 for that trek. He’d done this type of deed for Casas before, and has made as much as $7,000 for a single trip.

The Final Nail In The Coffin

Authorities had enough incriminating evidence to justify affixing a GPS tracker to the tractor trailer truck. After a time, the GPS tracker sent an alert to Homeland Security Investigations: the truck was on the move. It ended up at Casas’ ranch, and they were able to move in and catch him in the act.

He was arrested thanks to the GPS tracker, and charged with drug possession and conspiracy. He is being held without bail and is due to face a judge at some point this week.

There is no doubt about it: a GPS tracking device is an essential tool for law enforcement! Need to track a truck that’s part of your fleet? Check out our selection!

How to Keep Holiday Fuel Consumption Lower

holiday_gas_pricesIt doesn’t matter where you live in North America, really, the price of fuel is high. That cost is really rough for people that commute daily, but it’s an even tougher fee to swallow for major companies with large fleets.

And, guess what? Prices are about to surge.

Every year around this time, fuel prices rise. Why? Mostly because of the holiday season. Its not just people that are traveling during the November and December months, it’s cargo too. Just think of all those toys and gifts that have to reach consumer shelves! Those things travel by truck, mostly, and that means that keeping a fleet running during the holiday season is going to be really expensive.

Is There Hope?

The best way to keep fuel costs down during the holiday months is to keep a close eye on fuel consumption. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this can make! Did you know that letting a truck idle for a long time can take more fuel than actually running that truck? Crazy, right?

You can tell your drivers not to idle, to take the shortest routes, and to make sure to use gas wisely. But, that doesn’t always work out. The only way you can really keep an eye on your trucks during transport is to install GPS tracking devices. What will this accomplish?

Why Use GPS Tracking Software?

When compared to the cost of fuel, installing GPS trackers on every truck within your fleet is cost-effective. Plus, these GPS trackers allow you to keep watch over your drivers. If a driver is veering off course or spending too much time idling, you can write down this information. Then, when your driver returns, you can speak to him about not wasting gas or finding a shorter route.

There’s no doubt that higher gas prices are coming. The holiday season officially starts when October ends, and that’s just a few weeks away! You can’t do anything about rising fuel costs (unfortunately!), but you can keep costs down by installing GPS trackers.

Not sure what kind of tracker you need? We can help you out. Just give us a call, and let us know how big your fleet is or what you want to accomplish. Got other questions? We can help you there too.

We also want to know how GPS trackers have worked out for your fleet. If you’ve tried this technology, have you found it beneficial? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Catching a Flight? You’re Being Tracked!

airport_gps_trackingAs the holidays approach, you may be looking into boarding a plane to meet up with friends or family members. But, did you know that airports track your smartphone data? Just like retailers, certain airports are tapping into what you’re doing on your phone if you use airport WiFi.

Why Airports Want Your Cell Data

Airports track WiFi and Bluetooth signals as people pass through terminals and gates. Why? It all has to do with customer service. What airport officials are looking for are patterns in the way that people travel, and how efficient certain parts of an airport are.

For example: if one airport that you frequently pass through has a really long wait at a certain security check, this data can be collected and used to better that security check (hopefully making it faster). Problems with hold ups and issues with customer service are things that airports look for too. But, there’s more to this tracking.

Where Your Dollars Are Spent

Airports want to know how you spend your money when you are visiting airport shops. If you buy, say, an overpriced flight pillow for $40, this is valuable information for the airport you purchased that pillow at. Why? That store will stock more pillows, of course!

It’s not entirely bad, though. Sure, airports are tracking what you buy and where you go, but some airports are now offering passengers certain discount codes and coupons via smartphone. So, you may just wind up with a cheaper in-flight pillow or some other gadget that you had to have while waiting for your flight. How do airports track your movements? With GPS software, of course.

Your Phone and GPS

Your smartphone is equipped with GPS tracker technology, and that’s how airport operators can see where you move and how long it takes you to get through various parts of an airport. In some ways, this tech will ensure a faster airport experience. In other ways, GPS tracking helps airports make passenger life simpler. So, you see, it’s all good!

You can use a GPS tracker to track nearly anything. From your luggage (yes, we have trackers that you can tuck inside of your suitcase!) to kids that may get lost in an airport, this innovative technology can do it all. While it may seem creepy knowing that someone is tracking your every move, it’s also a way for airports to make passenger life easier.

What do you think? Should airports use GPS tracking to find out what passengers buy and where they go? Or, is this a complete and total invasion of privacy that should be noted upon entry to an airport?

 

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons