DiData, Cisco forge anti-poaching pact

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DiData and Cisco will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors to protect rhinos.
DiData and Cisco will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors to protect rhinos.

Systems integrator Dimension Data and US-based networking giant Cisco are bringing together their technologies to combat rhino poaching in SA.

The two companies will deploy some of the world's most sophisticated technology in an unnamed private game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park, to monitor and track individuals from the time they enter the reserve gates, until they exit.

Using these technologies, the companies aim to deter would-be poachers from killing rhinos - one of the most endangered species in the world.

According to National Geographic, for the first time since 2008, SA has seen a decrease in rhino poaching. Last year, 1 175 rhinos were poached - 40 fewer than in 2014.

South African National Parks and the South African government are facing increasing pressure from the public and other stakeholders to stop the poaching. Compounding the problem is the fact that the criminals are highly organised and have vast resources, including sophisticated technology, at their disposal.

In phase one of the project, Dimension Data worked closely with Cisco to gather information from the game rangers, security personnel, technology, and control centre teams. The first step was to create a secure reserve area network (RAN) and install WiFi hotspots around key points, which is completed.

At the beginning of the pilot phase in December 2015, a high-value, point-to-point radio RAN was built and tested as a proof-of-concept to create a high security 'net' that covered the entire perimeter of the reserve.

The partners say collaboration through reliable communications for alerts and warnings and the ability to share live video footage across the reserve greatly enhances the anti-poaching team's ability to counter incursions.

Dimension Data is installing Cisco WiFi and local area networks at each gate, which improves and strengthens the communication channels between security personnel and rangers in the reserve.

Phase two of the connected conservation project will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors on a secure intelligent network.

Data is collected on every individual entering the reserve. This includes fingerprints of staff, contractors, suppliers, as well as rangers and trackers working in the reserve. ID numbers or visitor passports will be scanned, and registration plates of all vehicles entering the reserve will be captured.

Using predictive modelling, the analytics team is able to estimate when an individual or vehicle is expected to exit the reserve.

Digitising the physical security processes has established a more reliable sequence for allowing people in and out of the reserve, ensuring that the reinforcement is more reliable and accurate.

The data is analysed on an ongoing basis to enable better decision-making, future investments, and technology deployments.

Dimension Data has also deployed the RAN using Cisco technology, which the company says will be one of the first installations of its kind in the world.

"The goal of our end-to-end technology solution is to proactively intervene and stop people entering the reserve illegally - whether it's cutting fences, being dropped onto the ground by helicopters, or simply driving in through the entrance gates," says Bruce Watson, Dimension Data's group executive for Cisco Alliance.

"Over time, the solution will be replicated in other reserves in South Africa, Africa, and globally to not only protect rhino, but conserve other endangered species such as elephants, lions, pangolin, tigers in India and Asia, and even sea rays in the ocean."

"We're extremely proud to be a partner in the connected conservation efforts," says Chris Dedicoat, executive vice-president of worldwide sales at Cisco.

"Cisco and Dimension Data have applied their innovation to transformational, cutting-edge technologies and have leveraged our synergies in the latest network, security, datacentre, collaborative workspaces and hybrid cloud solutions. We hope the number of rhino will once again thrive in this protected game reserve."

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