Sunday, January 22, 2006

PDAs, Elk, RFID & Geospatial Data Collection

This last week I had the opportunity to meet with 2 different state government agencies here in the USA. We discussed many different business processes that lended themselves to mobilization, but one stood out for its uniqueness.

In Idaho people farm elk, not all people, some farm potatoes. These elk farmers need to protect their herds against disease, and document the fact that their herds are disease free. These farmers must register the locations of their herds using GPS coordinates, and then collect geospatial data concerning the details of the herd, their immunizations, history, etc. This is becoming increasingly important, since if one herd has a disease, it could impact the sales of all meat in that region. Farmers must not only protect their animals, but effectively market and promote the health status of their herd in order to continue selling during times of disease.

It is not enough to document the location and health of your herd, one must document the location and health of each individual animal. RFID ear tags are often a good solution to this. In my discussions last week concerning the elk farmers, these farmers created collection zones where all animals walk through a specific location, whether a water trough, feedlot, or salt lick. These locations funnel the animals through narrow paths where RFID readers can collect and inventory the details of the herds and individual animals. This information allows these large animals to be effectively managed and documented without trauma and risk of injuring the animals through large round-ups and corral lock-ups. Elk are strong, wild and flighty and it is dangerous to handle them. Therefore, the less you need to confine and handle them, the better.

PDAs are used through-out this process to document information on herds, pastures, health, births, injuries, deaths, GPS coordinates and much more. MobileDataforce's PointSync solution can effectively be used to develop and customize these mobile applications.