It is not uncommon for police forces to use global positioning software (GPS) for tracking living animals to learn about their daily habits, movements, and location, but this is one of the first times an animal not living has been tracked.
In this case, it is to help the Royal Canadian Mounted Police find missing persons.
A 180-pound pig carcass had a GPS tracking device strapped to it and was pushed into the South Saskatchewan River located in Saskatoon, Canada. With the GPS tracking software, the Saskatoon Historical Case Unit (HCU) can track its location down the river, including looking at data about how fast it goes, when it stops, and its general direction.
The mission of this project is to help the RCMP learn more about how bodies move in the river when they are dumped there. In the future, they hope that it aid them in a more efficient search for bodies in the river.
During the first phase of the GPS tracking project, a pig carcass was dropped into the North side of the Saskatchewan River in North Battleford. Here, the RCMP watched the location and movement of the pig until about a week later when it was found stopped on a sand bar, located approximately 20 kilometers from its original location.
The second phase of the project looks at the flow and level of water in the river. They will not only study the flow and level of the water, but how the weather affects where the pig ends up.
Cpl. Tyler Handland and his team at HCU have been tracking bodies missing since the 1980s. This includes six in the South Saskatchewan River and five in the North Saskatchewan River. One body they are looking for is that of Gregory Myles MacIntosh who has been missing since his bachelor party two weeks prior, and was supposed to be getting married.
The reason police believe his body to be missing in the water is because they found blood near the Saskatchewan river after having been told someone was seen falling in the ice the night he went missing. Police believe a fight at a pub earlier that night might be related to his disappearance. According to Hadland, they hope to find his and other missing bodies through this GPS tracking project.
Hadland also told reporters that where the bodies end up is one of the biggest mysteries, leading them to painting a pig carcass a neon orange color and strapping it with a GPS tracking device. The bright color helps them find the carcass when it stops and more easily retrieve it.
If they can at least recover the bodies of missing persons, they can give their grieving families some type of closure.
Researchers in Kenya stop ivory poachers with GPS tracking technology for their rapidly declining population of elephants.
In Nairobi, Kenya and surrounding areas, the elephant population is dwindling at a rapid pace. Much of this is due to poachers that harm the elephants for the ivory tusks of the animals, similar to poachers who slaughter rhinos for their horns, which are used for medicinal and narcotics purposes.
Locals have called it a “rapidly escalating environmental crime wave” and researchers in the area are hoping to put a stop to it with modern technology.
Two organizations – the United Nations Environmental Program and Interpol – are working together on a project to put a stop to this and other environmental crimes. These crimes not only put the environment and its living creatures at risk, but cost up to billions of dollars every year. Five hundred researchers and other experts and law enforcement agencies in Nairobi are working diligently on this problem.
The killing of elephants and rhinos in Africa has escalated in the last few years, reaching 17,000 elephants in 2011 alone and 35,000 in 2012. The threat to elephant extinction is so real that President Obama recently announced an executive order ban the commercial sale of ivory.
In The White House National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, President Obama writes:
“Because of the actions of poachers, species like elephants and rhinoceroses face the risk of significant decline or even extinction. But it does not have to be that way.”
The demand for ivory rises as the economy struggles and the middle class in China and other areas fund these exhibitions. To date, there at least two known smuggling rings in China that have been busted for around $100 million worth of ivory from elephants poached in both Africa and China, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). There have also been over 700 tusks taken from Chinese traders in Tanzania.
According to the president of the IFAW, Azzedine Downes, “If range-state countries are willing to commit to enforcement that works across national boundaries, our supporters in non-range states are willing to step up and help fund those efforts.” This is what has led to new projects being developed that use GPS tracking technology.
The project will include 15 tracked elephants using GPS collars. These will not harm the elephants, but track their every move through Google Earth. Researchers can watch the elephant’s location and movement, including if and when they stray into areas that poachers tend to frequent. They will send in drones if this happens to try and protect the elephants that have wandered a little too far. A button labeled “Take Off” sends the drones to the area to divert elephants and spot the poachers on the horizon. The elephants don’t like the sound of the drones, thinking they are bees, so they are able to run off and escape.
In addition to the GPS tracking collars, the Nairobi government is also employing an anti-poaching team to shoot any armed poachers they find on sight and will implant tracking microchips in the horns of some rhinos so they can track any poachers that reach them.
Shopaholics get help curbing their spending with a new GPS-tracking handbag.
Whether a shopper is suffering from an actual addiction to shopping or simply can’t pass up a good deal, there’s a new “smart bag” that stands to offer benefits to anyone with a shopping problem.
On the outside, the new bag looks just like a regular handbag. But on the inside, modern technology takes over by using a GPS tracker.
Using global positioning software (GPS) for more than just navigational purposes isn’t new, but this is the first of its kind using GPS to thwart excessive spending. Not only does the hi-tech bag have tracking capabilities, but it also includes a radio sensor and has the ability to “lock down,” which prevents the owner of the bag opening it to retrieve money or credit cards.
The creator of the iBag is an Australian credit card service, called Credit Card Finder (creditcardfinder.com.au). As a company providing credit card comparison services to its visitors, it knows a lot about credit card spending. Their primary goal is to help people put a stop to excessive spending, particularly with credit cards.
Several important types of data are capable of being tracked by the bag and the wallet. For example, an RFID tag is used in the bag which keeps a total count of when the wallet is removed and replaced in the bag, or when the bag is opened.
GPS tracking is used for multiple purposes as well, including tracking the location of where the individual is, such as a “high-danger zone area” like a high-end shopping center or mall.
By gathering this type of data, a “digital red flag alert” can be sent to friends or relatives of the shopper to let others know they have been or about to go shopping.
The handbag could be helpful for people who have a serious addiction to shopping and spend unnecessary money uncontrollably. Or, it could be beneficial for the person who has credit card debt and is trying to pay it off.
The most extreme function is the locking down of the handbag after the shopper has spent too much, during times of the day when the shopper are at most risk for shopping, or when the shopper is at a location where she is known to overspend. There are also built-in LED lights that light up if the person is nearing a store they tend to frequent.
Even the creator’s spokeswoman, Michelle Hutchinson, agrees it is a highly extreme option for individuals. She says it cannot stop people from overspending once they access their credit card or keep a budget, but it does alert them and their relatives if they have been in a risky shopping location or have been removing their wallet from the handbag excessively.
The iBag is currently available as a pre-order product for $199. If the company sees enough interest based on pre-orders, it will continue going into production and make it available to a wider audience.