With this post I have intention to bring out concept of having “smarter” warning signs for animals in the road. Since overall idea of IoT is to improve our day to day life, make it easier, make it safer, I see avoiding collisions with the animals on the road as something we could improve a lot more with today’s available technology.
Idea for this topic was driven by an accident that my father had few months ago in the region of Baranja in the east of Croatia. So, for some of you that probably didn’t heard of Baranja, this region is very well known as top destination for deer hunting as well as for hunting wild boar, roe deer, pheasant, wild duck, hare and fox, but you can also enjoy bird watching in Kopačku rit nature park.
Even though my father is well aware of richness of wildlife in Baranja, even though there are many road signs for animals in the road, we people have tendency to get used to certain conditions and ignore warnings, until reality hits us hard. Reasons of not taking extra caution when we see those road warning signs are numerous: from long experience of not seeing any animals on certain road to not being concentrated on driving as main activity to be focused on or just maybe irresponsibility as a lifestyle we are having. Consequence of this kind of behavior are road accidents with material damage and numerous injured or dead animals as well as people.
This kind of road accidents are well known problem and lot of effort is made for prevention: road signs, special animal crossings, animal crossing barriers, animal drive away products.
If we look at the EU data, we have each year recorded more than half a million of ungulate traffic collisions with damage over 1 billion of USD (Bruinderink and Hazebroek, 1996.). Thus average cost is over 2000 USD per collision and there’s also an assumption about additional 40% of collisions not even being registered by authorities.
As a result of all of those big numbers, we also have pretty good statistical data about critical location as well as critical time periods periods when most of the collisions do happen.
So, I decided to find out if there are some solutions in IoT world that could improve current situation and make roads safer for us and the animals. One very interesting solution I came across is FindMy used SaveMyReindeer who has won the hackathon set up by Kartverket, Norwegian mapping authority, with a idea of getting the solution for problem with trains killing over 6000 reindeers each year in Norway.
SaveMyReindeer is an IoT solution based on using satellite GPS tracking collars. Solution for having “smarter” traffic signs could use similar principle of geofencing and they could have some additional lights for warning the drivers when they are getting in the zone where we have detected activity in a real time from GPS animal collar.
For sure that data could be shared and integrated with today’s car navigation systems or some smartphone application as additional media of protection.
I’m aware that we can’t put collars on all the animals, but there’s a statistics to help us decide on best fit for the biggest impact. Data from collars can certainly be used for other useful things such as: investigation pattern of animal behavior, for insurance companies, for railway collision avoidance, etc.
SaveMyReindeer is based on satellite communication as a best solution for getting the biggest geographical reach but we might also consider other technologies: LPWAN tracking or maybe non-imaging sensors like those already being used on some borders.
Anyhow, it’s obvious that with today’s available technology we can improve current solutions and make world a bit safer place when it comes to something that could struck anyone of us. We have enthusiast dealing with this topic for decades, with improvements being made but today we certainly can do a lot more.
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