Recreational land users in Saskatchewan including hunters, birdwatchers, hikers and snowmobilers could soon have access to a new web-based app that allows them to seek and obtain permission to access privately owned rural lands.
The new app, called SaskLander, was developed by Saskatoon-based company Western Heritage and was unveiled Nov. 7 at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) office in Regina.
Earlier this year, Western Heritage was named the winner of the Rural Property Access Challenge, a program launched by Innovation Saskatchewan, in collaboration with SARM.
The challenge was intended to support amendments made earlier this year to Saskatchewan’s Trespass to Property Act.
The act requires members of the public to get permission from rural property owners before entering their land. Previously, recreational land users were not required to seek permission from landowners unless the land was posted.
“The web app gives landowners the ability to specify which activities can take place on their private property and when,” said SaskLander co-founder Aldo Scribante.
“SaskLander uses a map interface to show all potential land users what land is available for use. It also gives them the ability, inside the app, to ask the property owner for permission to access that land.”
A prototype of the app will be field tested this fall during a pilot project in the Rural Municipality of Shellbrook, west of Prince Albert. The pilot project is expected to wrap up before the end of 2020.
SaskLander was developed through the government’s Innovation Challenge program, where Innovation Saskatchewan crowd-sources ideas to resolve challenges or create opportunities for Saskatchewan citizens.
The initial idea for SaskLander was advanced through a 16-week residency with SARM and Innovation Saskatchewan.
The residency gave Western Heritage the opportunity to connect with various government ministries and organizations to identify and work through potential challenges during development.
“The collaborative approach taken by Western Heritage and SARM has already resulted in a working prototype under our Innovation Challenge,” said Tina Beaudry-Mellor, the provincial minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan.
“The development team is now moving into testing to see how the app works in the real world.”
SARM president Ray Orb said he was pleased with the outcome of the rural access challenge.
“With SARM’s role in representing the interests of rural municipal government, we are very pleased with the outcomes of the Innovation Challenge and look forward to continuing to represent our stakeholder’s interests as SaskLander pilots its technology,” he said.
The Innovation Challenge is a government program aimed at identifying innovative technology. Its competitions invite applications from the public.
Winning proposals have four months to develop a prototype, which then goes through a pilot-testing phase. Successful solutions may be commercialized.
The first Innovation Challenge resulted in the creation of Bee-Secure, an asset-tracking system designed to help resolve rural property thefts.
The BeeSecure system consists of an app and small tracking device that can be attached to any object o piece of property.
When the object or piece of property moves, the tracking device sends a text message and GPS data to the owner’s cell phone.
The hardware does not require permanent power or the internet to alert the owner of unusual activity on their property.
To find out more, see https://beesecure.ca/.