A new product designed to combat rural crime could upset any advantage thieves have over property owners in remote areas.
Rivercity Technology developed an asset tracking system that uses a combination of GPS and cell network technology. It is capable of notifying users when an object is moved and track it.
The BeeSecure Asset Tracker is about the size of a business card and about one inch thick. It recently won the Rural Crime Innovation Challenge organized by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice.
Its case can also be 3D printed to look like almost anything.
“When the box moves, it activates some technology inside of it, which sends some data to our mobile app. Then our mobile app takes the data and turns it into text messages to the group of people you want to notify about your asset moving,” said Jeff Shirley of Rivercity Technology.
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Shirley originally developed the BeeSecure Asset Tracker to help track property in his commercial apiary.
“When the text message comes in, you can log into the app and you can see this event. You can see the GPS of it and the time of it and you know what asset it is. You can then flag that and say normal, suspicious or stolen,” Shirley said.
If the event is flagged suspicious or stolen, local law enforcement is notified and they have the ability to monitor and follow the device.
Through the app, users can see where their property is on Google Earth, and it can be followed across provincial borders.
The device could potentially be the start of an entirely new method of detecting, tracking and charging criminals.
Shirley said most individual farms currently work by themselves to prevent crime, which usually included installing their own security systems that are often expensive.
“This is not reducing rural crime, they are not working together. What we’re doing is working innovatively with the Ministry of Justice and law enforcement to try and look at this at a higher level and say, ‘what can we do where, if everybody is on the same page, it’s cheaper, it’s more effective, and it’s safer,’ ” he said.
He added that the BeeSecure system gives law enforcement more opportunity to catch thieves.
“RCMP or law enforcement could better plan an interception, set out some spike strips on the road, or bring a different level of law enforcement into a cluster where we know there are stolen assets, and we can do it in a more controlled way that is safer for law enforcement and safer for the public.”
Rural broadband service is often a major obstruction for rural security systems, but this device sidesteps the problem by relying on the provincial cellular network.
The next stage in BeeSecure Asset Tracker’s development will include having a cluster of mesh-node devices that connect to an original device with cell connectivity.
“The mesh node doesn’t have all the same hardware in it. It talks to the main one, which has the hub in it. The mesh ones just have GPS and they tell you if they are moving or not. So, when they move, they talk to the main hub, the main hub sends the data up and the app then notifies everybody,” Shirley said.
“We’re building a virtual security network for the entire province,” he said.
The BeeSecure Asset Tracker has a hibernation and active mode.
In the hibernation mode when the device is not in motion it uses approximately one percent of its battery power per day, allowing it to be operational for months at a time.
Users can control the intervals of how often the device will provide a GPS position when in motion.
In a recent test, Shirley said a device with 75 percent battery provided a GPS position every five minutes for 16 hours.
It can be hooked up to 12-volt, solar power or an electric fence, and the internal battery will then serve as a backup supply.
The BeeSecure Asset Tracker can also be set to sleep for a predetermined time so that if a farm hand is using a monitored machine the users will not constantly receive text messages.
It is tamper resistant, and the minute the device is touched it sends off a text.
Shirley said cabin owners are a big market for the company because of the cost to maintain broadband connection in remote areas.
“We can actually put it inside a cabin on a door. If you have cabin up north and somebody opens your door you start getting text messages,” He said.
The device retails for $300 and there is a $5 dollar per month fee to upload data through the cell towers.
Software licensing and fees have been waived for law enforcement.