Smart location tracking of domestic animals brings safety for both hunting and finding a pet that has run away to explore the world. Grazing livestock can also be quickly found with the help of location tracking that uses IoT technology.

Hunters with dogs might already be familiar with location trackers, but IoT technology makes location tracking much cheaper and more reliable.

Rovaniemi-based Mapitare Oy developed their Ranniot location tracking service in cooperation with Digita. The location trackers transmit data over Digita’s IoT network, which keeps power consumption low and enables data to be transmitted for long periods of time.

– Location trackers can be used for monitoring the movements of pets, hunting dogs, sheep, reindeer, cattle and more, says Petri Särkisaari, CEO of Mapitare.

A dog that dashes off into distance after a scent, disappears out of sight and does not come back causes concern to the owner. The worries can be alleviated by location tracking, which allows the dog’s location to be monitored for up to several weeks.

– Location tracking brings confidence, since you know right away where to search for the dog. An elkhound might run away for several days. Here, the low power consumption of a location tracker connected to the IoT network really helps, as it allows the dog’s location to be monitored for up to three weeks, says Särkisaari.

“Location tracking increases trust”

The idea for the Ranniot tracking service developed by Särkisaari was born out of the need to get a reliable long-term solution for tracking farm animals, but with technology that works even in challenging conditions.

For example, a tracker attached to a dog’s vest, collar or harness must be durable even in extreme weather conditions, as the tracker can easily get wet, dented and dirty in the forest. It must be possible to attach the tracker on the dog tightly and in a way that does not disturb the dog, for example by getting stuck in something.

These are some of the things Ranniot has paid attention to in its trackers intended for domestic animals. They are light, slightly larger than a matchbox and easy to attach on different animals. The company has cooperated with the Jämijärvi-based Kardog, a manufacturer of dog vests and other dog supplies.

The positioning interval of the IoT devices can be adjusted from three minutes to one week, thus further prolonging the battery life. If a phone is used instead of a tracker, the positioning interval can be as short as one second. In other words, the Ranniot app can turn a phone into an IoT location tracker.

– You can repurpose your old phone as a dog tracker. This might also reduce your threshold of getting yourself a new phone.

For hunters, location tracking also increases safety, since both dogs and other hunters can be tracked. The IoT app allows you to be constantly aware of the party’s movements via a LoRaWAN and GSM network.

Digita’s network covers almost the whole of Finland

Location trackers must operate not only in demanding conditions, but also in all kinds of terrain. Digita’s LoRaWAN network covers almost all of Finland and enables wireless data transfer even over long distances. Trackers connected to the IoT network do not need a SIM card.

Mapitare’s customers utilise location tracking services also in areas in which the coverage was initially not so good, but has since improved, due to the network being expanded as necessary. That is one of the reasons Särkisaari praises Digita.

– A significant advantage for us is that Digita’s network is extensive and actively developed. We engage in constant dialogue with Digita on network coverage, since our customers need coverage in Northwest Lapland and along the eastern border, where the infrastructure is sparse, says Särkisaari.

If necessary, the coverage of the IoT network can be expanded quickly and easily with mobile base stations, for example. Mapitare and Digita’s started cooperating in 2017.

– At that time, the Rovaniemi area had only a few base stations. As we look at the network today, I cannot but praise Digita’s customer-centric attitude in building base stations. We are very satisfied with Digita, as they seem to genuinely want to produce something good.

Accidents come with no forewarning

An essential feature in a reliable location tracking service is that its maps can be used in offline mode as well as online. Mapitare’s vector-based maps only need to be downloaded once. After that, they will always work, irrespective of networks and coverage areas. It is important that maps work offline in areas in which coverage is intermittent or non-existent.

According to Särkisaari, there are too many cases of people getting lost, and these could have disastrous consequences. If the map application on your phone is completely dependent on a network connection, it is useless outside the network coverage area. This is why Särkisaari developed Mapitare. Everyone should understand that is indeed possible to get lost even when picking berries in familiar terrain.

– A typical case is a boater in the outer archipelago who encounters thick fog, which makes navigation impossible. When the coverage is weak, some brands of map applications fail to open, but Mapitare’s offline maps with satellite positioning work in all circumstances. In one case, Mapitare helped a boater to reach their home pier safely in zero visibility, even though they had been completely unaware of their actual whereabouts for the last few hours, recounts Särkisaari.

Among the users of Mapitare’s location tracking system are several organisations, security authorities and FinnHEMS air medical helicopters.

Digita’s LoRaWAN network

  • A national network that can be used for IoT (Internet of Things) solutions
  • Designed for wireless and energy-efficient data transfer
  • Based on LoRa (Long Range) technology, which is especially well suited for sending and receiving small amounts of data over long distances
  • Key features of LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology include two-way data communication, portability, tracking solutions and easy deployment
  • The sensors used to collect data are lightweight and easy to install wirelessly
  • A wide range of sensor solutions available

This article was originally published on the website as part of a commercial partnership.