Personal tracker combines GPS and LoRa RF technology

Personal tracker combines GPS and LoRa RF technology

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

As part of the MONICA (Management of Networked IoT Wearables – Very Large Scale Demonstration of Cultural Societal Applications) research project, a consortium led by Fraunhofer FIT has developed a tracker system that determines the exact location of people in a large crowd and displays it in an operations center. For example, the organizers of mega-events can see at any time where employees of the law enforcement forces, service staff, emergency doctors or firefighters are located. The location of these people is displayed in real time on a digital map of the location in an operations centre.

The system, which met all the above requirements, uses a GPS receiver to determine the location and the LoRa radio protocol to transmit the data to the control center. LoRa is a radio protocol designed for the “Internet of Things” and enables ranges of several kilometers. The system was tested at the major event “Rhein in Flammen”, where tens of thousands of spectators watch a series of fireworks on the Rhine river every year. During the test, the entire event area was covered completely and redundantly with only two antennas. “The advantage of our system is that it functions independently of the mobile phone network and at the same time hardly needs to be set up its own infrastructure,” explains Marco Jahn of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.

The trackers are about the size of a car key and can be attached to clothing or stored in the pockets of security personnel. Their basic function is to continuously report the exact position of the wearer to the control center. In addition, the trackers are equipped with a kind of “panic button”. When activated, the position of the corresponding unit is highlighted on the digital location map and the responsible persons are provided with additional information. »

In the course of the event, police, fire, rescue and law enforcement forces tested a total of 45 trackers. It is said that the system met all requirements. “Being informed at all times about the current position of the emergency forces is extremely helpful and greatly facilitates communication and coordination during such major events,” says Malik Dine of the police authority in Bonn.

The system, consisting of trackers, antennas and the digital location map, was developed by Fraunhofer FIT as part of the EU MONICA project and is suitable for large events of all kinds. MONICA fathoms out to what extent sensor technology and the Internet of Things can improve the security of visitors at major events. The project, funded by the European Union with 15 million euros, started in 2017 and will be completed by the end of this year.

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