UK’s tracking programme is exclusively for cows

Whilst many of us are steal reeling from the invasive privacy measures used by the NSA in their PRISM programme; it turns out the UK has started a similar tracking initiative... for cows.

The aptly-named “Cow Tracking Project” connects individual cows to the web, Internet of Things-style, by attaching a GPS device to each, and placing sensors around their shed to monitor their movements and sleeping habits.

Its aim is to monitor any behavioural changes which could indicate disease; including the dreaded Mad Cow Disease – which studies indicate can even be transmitted by airborne infection.

Each case where infections have fully developed is thought to cost the farmer around 300 pounds; early indication could reduce or eliminate these costs.

As for the technology itself, The Cow Tracking Project aims to eventually include real-time updates by sending relevant information to farmers via texts and emails – relayed via 3G.

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: "Economic success and technological advancement are both essential to addressing major global challenges.”

He continues: “This innovative project can contribute to both and go on to continue Strathclyde’s extensive record of translating ground-breaking research into high value, high quality products."

Beyond illness and infections, instant notifications can be sent out if a cow goes into labour or other distress – helping the farmer with a peace of mind whilst away from his cattle.

The project is being developed with the help of seven institutions; University of Strathclyde, Morrisons, Scottish Agricultural College, Harbro, Well Cow, National Milk Records (NMR) and Embedded Technology Solutions - with funding coming from the UK's Technology Strategy Board (which equals roughly more than $2 million.)

David Alvis, director of the Technology Strategy Board’s sustainable agriculture and food projects, said, "Addressing animal health and welfare challenges and improving animal performance monitoring are vital pieces of the food security jigsaw.”

He continues: “The technologies developed through this project have the potential to benefit farming communities in the UK and around the world and we wish the partners every success."

Of course this is just one of the practical implementations of the Internet of Things; but one which in its simplicity; shows even the most basic ideas can have a huge impact.

What do you think about the Cow Tracking Project and the Internet of Things?

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