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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 10:56 GMT
Hi-tech answer to reindeer tracking
Reindeer
Saami people track reindeer for food
Wireless technology has been used for many things but reindeer tracking is perhaps one of the strangest.

The Saami Network Connectivity Project (SNC) is currently seeking funding to put a remote group of reindeer herders in touch with the internet.

The Saami are a population of nomadic herders that live in and around Lapland, Russia, Sweden and Finland and who track reindeer for food.

The researchers plan to provide a basic telemetry tracking system by attaching sensors to some of the reindeer herd.

It would also allow the Saami access to the web and e-mail to enable families to stay in touch.

Cultural impact

The idea is a collaboration between Maria Uden, a researcher in Human Work Science and Avri Doria, a researcher in Network Systems.

Both are based at Lulea University of Technology in Sweden

Ms Doria believes the system is vital to the way of life of the Saami.

"It will be a big cultural change for them," she said.

Reindeer eating
Plan to attach sensors to the reindeer
Among other things it would allow for the remote schooling of Saami children and enable women to become more involved in remote reindeer tracking.

"Instead of spending all day on a snowmobile, they would be able to be in two places at once," said Ms Doria.

The Saami people are already using the internet to revive their culture and have a website called SameNet.

However, it is only when the tribe return to their towns and villages that they are able to take advantage of it.

Ms Doria proposes using Delay Tolerant Networking technology to provide connectivity for the Saami people.

This would rely on radio connections attached to vehicles such as snowmobiles, helicopters and trucks that travel in the area.

There would a delay in receiving replies to e-mails though.

"Rather than taking a few seconds it would take hours or even days. The system is a variant on ad hoc networking but relies on the probability that there will be someone to pass the message on," explained Ms Doria.

Some of the technology has come from ideas suggested by the Interplanetary Network, which is looking at ways of providing net connectivity in space.

See also:

24 Dec 00 | Europe
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