Tag Archives: SMRU

Smart Telemetry Tags used to capture underwater data that will help monitor climate change


LPWA Helping to Track Wildlife and Provide Data on Climate Change; University of St Andrews Developing New Smart Tags to Track Seals Using NB-IoT Technology

21 February 2017, London: The University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) is developing smart telemetry tags using Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) technology to track and monitor the movement of harbour seals and research their population decline. NB-IoT is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) technology that was standardised by the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative and will play a fundamental role in the emerging ‘Internet of the Seas’ by capturing underwater data that will help to monitor climate change.

The new sensors being developed by SMRU will be harmlessly attached to the seals in order to log detailed data on the animals’ behaviour, such as location and dive depth, as well as temperature, salinity and, eventually, underwater sound. Low power devices and networks in licensed spectrum vastly improve wildlife tracking by enabling more efficient tracking tags that are smaller and less intrusive.

SMRU expects to trial the new NB-IoT enabled marine tags later this year. In 2016, it successfully gathered information for analysis from harbour seals in Orkney, Scotland, using machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. Mobile IoT networks have the potential to deliver improvements in mobile coverage and the built-in device modules offer battery life superior to devices reliant on conventional cellular technologies.

“The GSMA is supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by exploring how mobile technology can be utilised to capture vital information to support wildlife conservation projects around the world, as well as protect the oceans, seas and the species living in them,” commented Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “The intersection between Mobile IoT technologies and global conservation projects such as this is exciting, timely and powerful and will play a fundamental role in helping to achieve healthy and productive oceans.”

The Internet of the Seas
NB-IoT technology can also be used to support the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), a UNESCO programme that coordinates global ocean data from different governance bodies. NB-IoT can help monitor climate change by means of low energy sensors and data relay channels that capture information on the temperature and salinity of the oceans. Combined and standardised with data from other sea monitoring systems, such NB-IoT-derived data will help provide scientists and oceanographers with accurate information on the world’s oceans. Tagging animals with smart tags also helps scientists to use their mobility and diving skills to explore both distant and deep parts of oceans.

“NB-IoT technology is the future of our research and allows us to springboard from the success of our previous work using M2M technology and capture far more detailed data in a much more efficient way,” said Dr Bernie McConnell, Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews. “Many species, both marine and aquatic, are under threat. NB-IoT is ideally suited to be a global carrier of animal information that will provide vital data needed to inform and benefit wildlife conservation worldwide.”

SMRU was approached by the Scottish Government to investigate why seals on the east coast of Scotland and the Northern Isles were in serious decline with a 70 per cent reduction over the last ten years. The natural habitat of animals around the world is being impacted by climate change that is disrupting food chains and biodiversity. The research is ongoing but the possible reasons for the decline could be food limitation, disease, aggression from grey seals, predation by killer whales, and poisoning from harmful algal blooms. A crucial element will be in discovering where the threatened seals feed at sea.

The GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative
LPWA networks are a high-growth area of the IoT designed for M2M applications that have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations. They will be used for a wide variety of applications such as industrial asset tracking, safety monitoring, water and gas metering, smart grids, city parking, vending machines and city lighting. The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is designed to accelerate the commercial availability of LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum. These licensed standards allow operators to optimise their existing mobile network infrastructure through an upgrade to LTE-M for LTE networks, while NB-IoT can use both 2G and 4G spectrum. It is currently backed by 30 of the world’s leading mobile operators, OEMs, chipset, module and infrastructure companies. The GSMA Mobile IoT initiative is supporting the industry with multiple global pilots with full commercial solutions expected in market later this year.

Mobile IoT at Mobile World Congress 2017
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSMA’s Connected Living Programme will host the ‘GSMA Global Mobile IoT Summit’ with leading industry experts on Sunday, 26 February from 13:00 – 17:30. The session will explore how the industry is working together to realise the full potential of Mobile IoT. There will also be a separate session, ‘Mobile IoT (LPWA) – Open for Business’, on Wednesday, 1 March from 13:30 – 15:30 that will provide an opportunity to learn about the latest commercial rollouts, launches and pilots. There will also be number of demonstrations of LPWA technology at the GSMA Innovation City located in Hall 4 in Fira Gran Via. For more information or please visit www.gsma.com/connectedliving/event/mobile-world-congress-2017/ or download the Connected Living IoT Guide to MWC 2017:
http://www.gsma.com/connectedliving/iot-guide-mwc17/. For more information on the GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative go to: www.gsma.com/connectedliving/mobile-iot-initiative/

Get Involved at Mobile World Congress 2017
For more information on Mobile World Congress 2017, including how to attend, exhibit or sponsor, visit www.mobileworldcongress.com. Follow developments and updates on Mobile World Congress on Twitter @GSMA using #MWC17, on our LinkedIn Mobile World Congress page www.linkedin.com/company/gsma-mobile-world-congress or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mobileworldcongress/. For additional information on GSMA social channels, visit www.mobileworldcongress.com/about/contact/social-media/.

Source: GSMA

Vodafone Connect Seals to Global M2M Network



Seals and other marine mammals around the UK coast and in other parts of the world are to be equipped with the latest marine smart tags using machine-to-machine (M2M) technology in a world first.

The new project is the result of a partnership between the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Instrumentation Group at the University of St Andrews and Vodafone UK to aid research into the rapid decline of some species of marine mammals. In the UK, some populations of Harbour seal – one of two resident UK species – have declined sharply, by up to 90% in some areas over the last 10 years.

The partnership will allow SMRU, a global leader in marine science, to equip and link smart tags worn harmlessly by seals, as well as turtles, with Vodafone’s M2M technology and global network to significantly improve the reach and quality of transmission in data collected from them when they surface to breathe.  The data collected is vital to SMRU and associated research organisations worldwide. It will assist them in providing impartial advice to government bodies, industry and offshore energy companies on the best practices in safeguarding seal populations and wider marine conservation.

M2M technology is being used to connect a wide range of systems to the ‘internet of things’; from cars and bicycles to heart monitors and homes – however, this is the first time it has been used to connect marine mammals.

Vodafone’s global M2M network provides a single and dedicated communications network from coastlines around the world to allow data about a seal’s location, dive behaviour and its oceanic environment, to be sent directly from the tags to SMRU for analysis.

SMRU developed the world’s first data capture and relay tags in 1982 and has progressively improved their design and functionality for in its own use in the UK and by similar research establishments elsewhere in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. A marine smart tag, connected to Vodafone’s global M2M platform and third-party satellite services, is lightweight, no larger than a mobile phone and can withstand depths of up to 200 metres. Fixed to the fur of seals with harmless adhesive, the tags drop off during the animals’ annual moult.

SMRU, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), aims to produce up to 100 Vodafone M2M marine smart tags per year for use both in the UK and with other institutions all around the world. The SMRU Instrumentation Group is recognised as a world leader in the design of innovative telemetry systems for marine mammals.

Vodafone’s M2M technology provides SMRU with a number of benefits, including:

  • A unique core network built specifically for M2M services;
  • A ubiquitous experience utilising both Vodafone owned and partner networks, offering access to hundreds of mobile networks worldwide, giving scientists more opportunities to collect data from ‘tagged’ marine mammals from more places, including remote areas and across different maritime borders;
  • Avoids any unforeseen data roaming charges if the seal travels to a different country as it works across a single system:
  • Enables SMRU to standardise the smart tags to work on one system rather than worry about working across multiple mobile phone technologies, and;
  • Marine scientists can control directly the active state of every M2M SIM in each tag anywhere in the world from a single PC.

SMRU’s Deputy Director Dr Bernie McConnell said: “Through the combination of technology and science, SMRU and Vodafone can help businesses and governments accelerate economic growth and responsible environmental management. Marine data collected is fundamental in balancing the health of the sea with society’s need to harvest food and energy from it. ”

Vodafone UK’s head of corporate responsibility Emer Boulter added: “Vodafone is providing its M2M technology and consultancy to help Bernie and the SMRU team to improve their data gathering and so help shape better informed policy decisions and better stewardship of the seas. We are delighted to partner with SMRU and hope that our technology and resources can go some way in continually improving environmental assessments in order to protect local sea mammal populations.”

SMRU and Vodafone began installing the M2M service this month for use on seals around the Northern Isles and western Scotland in Spring next year, for a project backed by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage. They also plan to work together at Vodafone’s laboratories in the UK to investigate ways to improve the speed and efficiency of relaying data ashore.  After a dive, seals come to the sea surface to breathe only for short periods.  So SMRU and Vodafone will continue to investigate ways to use these brief ‘data communication’ periods without expending too much battery energy.

Source: Vodafone