Exploring the Suitability of BLE Beacons to Track Poacher Vehicles in Harsh Jungle Terrains

Our overall aim is focused on exploring whether we could use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to track poacher vehicles in remote and rural areas such as Sabah, in Malaysia, especially deep inside the jungle terrain with little or no communication technologies exists. Tracking technologies are currently limited to relying on satellites or cellular-towers for environments that do not permit access to these signals, very few viable alternatives exist. This paper explores the use of BLE as a method to track vehicles. It works by mounting Bluetooth beacons beside a road and placing a receiver concealed somewhere inside the vehicle. As the vehicle drives past the beacon, the receiver and beacon are momentarily in range, the receiver then stores a unique ID from the beacon, and when the vehicle is then in an area with GSM signal, an SMS is sent containing the unique IDs of the beacons that have been detected. This project is prototyped and tested in collaboration with the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysia. The results offer insights for how effective BLE beacons are in a tracking situation for where the beacon and receiver are in range for a short period of time as well as how different obstructions will affect the range and strength of the signal. It is important to note that our objective is not to catch the poacher, instead to understand how they move around within jungle terrain, as we can use such information to develop a comprehensive plan against poaching activities.

The decline of the natural world has become one of the biggest talking points in the global news in the past decade. Poaching is one of largest impacting reasons for affecting not only the animals that are being poached but the entire surrounding ecosystem. These poachers operate in outlawed organised gangs as it is an extremely profitable industry. These organised gangs are extremely well structured, and thus difficult to track. Due to the limited technological options, it is currently almost impossible to track the poachers without them knowing once they enter the jungle. In this paper, we build a solution using Bluetooth beacons situated around the jungle and a receiver placed discreetly inside the vehicle. The receiver will be mounted unbeknown to the poachers, allowing them to be tracked as they pass certain locations. We deployed and tested our solution in the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysia by allowing the wildlife officers the means to track poachers to further understand how they operate within the inner jungles.

A BLE based location and tracking system also provide an alternative method to the limited technologies currently available on the market, this method allow tracking in remote environments where other technologies have little to no signal available. Our approach would also be suitable to be utilised in other locations where other tracking methods are unsuitable.

Contribution: In this project, we present a real-world study conducted in a Malaysian jungle terrain to explore how could we use BLE technology to track poaching vehicles in harsh conditions such as high humidity and dense trees.

Exploring the Suitability of BLE Beacons to Track Poacher Vehicles in Harsh Jungle Terrains

IEEE 6th World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT), New Orleans, LA, USA, 2020, pp. 1-6

Karan Juj and Charith Perera