ACAP designs e-tags to track trekkers
Amidst growing incidents of tourists losing their way, meeting with accidents or falling victims to wild animal attacks while trekking through jungles, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has come up with a system to trace their activities throughout their excursions.
Billed as Tourist Tracking System (TTS), the new system enables the ACAP to keep close tab on tourists with the help of a small device that looks like a pen-drive.
The device, aptly named as an ´e-tag´ by the ACAP, automatically updates details of tourists on a computer system administered by ACAP. Even friends and family members of tourists, whether in Nepal or abroad, can log on to the system and see where their dear ones have reached, provided that they have the code numbers of the e-tags concerned.
Tourists can also use e-tags to send SOS message to ACAP office if they lose their way, meet with accidents or are attacked by wild animals or robbers. "It´s very simple," said Mahabir Pun, member of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) that administers ACAP. "Tourists, in case of emergency, just need to press the button of e-tag. We get signals and know they are in trouble. So, rescue work can be carried out immediately."
NTNC´s Mahabir Pun demonstrates the e-tag, a device to track trekkers, in Pokhara on Friday.
"We believe the TTS could be very useful," said Pun. "In the past, tourists would often lose their way in the jungle. Some would even fall prey to animal attacks. Due to the lack of an effective system, we would always face problems in rescuing tourists immediately. Now, we know which tourists have reached where. And we can mobilize teams to rescue them."
Pun, who won the Magsaysay award in 2007 by developing wireless computer technology in remote villages, designed the TTS with the support from the Bangkok-based Asia Pacific Tele-community. To get e-tags, tourists need to deposit Rs 1,000 at the ACAP office before they set out for trekking. They can get back deposits when they safely return e-tags to the ACAP.
For the time being, e-tags work just inside the Annapurna sanctuary that includes places like Bire Thanti, Ghandruk, Pothana, Pritam Deurali and Shikh. "It is a six-month test period," says Pun. "If our system works effectively, we can expand it elsewhere, too." According to Pun, e-tags transmit signals through relay-stations that have been set up in different places of the Annapurna sanctuary. "A station receives e-tag signals and relays them to other stations," says he. "We can set up more such stations in the future."
Pun says transmission of signals in the TTS is a bit lengthy process. "But, it could be useful especially when tourists cannot carry satellite phones with them," says he.
Soure; from NTB newsletter
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