Utrecht, December 2021 – Smart Parks releases its most advanced device for rangers in protected areas. Across the world, rangers are guarding the remaining wild places. They are the “boots on the ground” that stand between poachers and endangered species like the elephant, eastern black Rhino and European bison.

These brave women and men are patrolling vast and remote areas and often spend multiple contiguous days in the field. Although these rangers are trained, these remote areas are particularly demanding with regards to the coordination of activities. Enabling these rangers to continuously share their location with the control room, where coordination takes place, helps to patrol on a higher tactical level. Even more important, it allows for a more responsive operation and cooperation in case of emergency and danger for the rangers themselves. Most ranger teams are currently equipped with long range radio handsets, so they can be in constant voice contact with the control room and other ranger teams. However, these radios are consuming a lot of battery power and equipping every ranger of the team with a handset is impossible in terms of budget and network capacity.

The RangerEdge device can be a more efficient way to connect every ranger to the control room. RangerEdge trackers are extremely low power and have a stunning rechargeable battery capacity of 6000 mAh. They will run effortless for multiple weeks in the field without the need for a recharge, providing constant position updates.

In addition, these devices have some revolutionary features which turn these ranger teams into even more effective units. One of these features is the contact tracing capability. The RangerEdge can actively scan for nearby devices transmitting various radio signals and relaying the scanning results to the control room. This allows for the detection of other rangers carrying a RangerEdge, but also collared animals.

Built for Rangers

The RangerEdge comes with a smartphone App that provides an easy way of interacting with the device. With the App rangers have access to features like GPS settings, network settings, signal scanning and device logs. The App also provides an easy way to update the RangerEdge edge with new firmware. This firmware is under active development and new features are underway. Amongst one of these new features is the possibility to use the RangerEdge as an emergency messaging device, so that in areas with no cellphone coverage the RangerEdge can be used to send and receive messages from the control room. More features can be expected around the built in support for EdgeImpulse, a tool set to implement AI on the RangerEdge device itself.

Alternative applications for the RangerEdge are: tourist safety, park management and community conservation. Check-out a more elaborate description about these applications here.

Extremely ruggedized yet easy to carry around. Much attention has gone into developing a custom enclosure that allows for long term deployments in challenging environments. The two part injection molded fiberglass reinforced enclosure is designed to be inconspicuous and suitable to be attached in various ways to backpacks, belts collars, cars, animals and various other applications. While very rugged, the enclosure can be disassembled, enabling long-term device repair and upgrades. Moreover, when the device has reached its end-of-life, it will allow for recovery of all valuable materials like the battery.

Each produced RangerEdge unit undergoes a fully automated test process, validating correct operation of all hardware features ranging from power consumption wile sending messages, GPS sensitivity and various other aspects. Full traceability is put in place for all components introduced into the system, assembly steps and final testing. This enables not only a robust product to be manufactured, but as well provides detailed feedback for improvements in the next design iterations.

How it was developed

The RangerEdge is the result of a 2-year development journey and was carried out by a collaboration between Smart Parks, IRNAS and Rompa. The development is also part of the OpenCollar Initiative, making it the most advanced device in its kind to be open source, so to contribute to the global collaborative approach for protecting wildlife and wild places.

What is next?

We have been releasing the first few hundred RangerEdge devices in the past weeks to assist and protect rangers in Namibia, South-Africa and Malawi. In 2022 we will increase our production to provide other protected areas with this new tool and we will continue to update the device firmware and smartphone app with new features. We remain open for highly appreciated additional funding, new feature requests and development support to keep this device in the best shape we can.

We truly think that making rangers better connected, will help to keep them and the wildlife they protect safer.

About Irnas

IRNAS offers a complete consulting and development service of IoT solutions for specialised use-cases, ranging from industrial powerline sensors development, coverage mapping, low power applications and edge computing off-grid devices for advanced sensor and image processing in limited bandwidth scenarios. Utilising the latest connectivity technologies, IRNAS is able to equip their customers with a well-tailored solution for their need.

About Rompa

The specialists at the Rompa Group deliver plastic parts, (sub)assemblies and fully finished products with inbuilt electronic components as well as plastic packaging solutions, servicing several markets. Rompa is a company with a global presence and a firm foundation in western Europe – where they have been around since 1881. Rompa wants to help companies like Smart Parks to achieve success with top-grade plastic products.