State of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Tracker

Understanding the movement of wildlife across the state to aid in their protection

Company Overview

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources serves the people of Utah by managing and protecting the state’s wildlife. As part of its Wildlife Migration Initiatives mission, the DWR strives to document, preserve and enhance wildlife movement for species throughout Utah using state-of-the-art tracking and data management technologies, strong collaborative partnerships and compelling outreach.

Business Situation

The Department of Wildlife wanted to rebuild its Wildlife Tracker application on the Google Cloud Platform to overcome performance issues related to using an on-premise database. With the database growing rapidly and expected to surpass 20 million locations, modernizing the system was critical for scaling to meet performance demand. It also had to be easily accessible to DWR staff, capable of delivering against a 99.9% uptime requirement, and flexible for future enhancements.

Project Highlights

The Wildlife Tracker was built on the Google Cloud Platform using BigQuery, AppEngine, Cloud Functions, and integrated with ArcGIS, which can be used to overlay additional features. DWR staff can quickly and easily view current and past point locations for nearly 3,000 animals throughout Utah via GPS-enabled tracking collars.

The Wildlife Tracker allows users to:

  • Process large datasets of collar point locations and get results in near real time
  • View maps with location of animals, then hover over the individual data point for details about the collar ID
  • Track and animate movements of individual or groups of animals based on date and time
  • Analyze and understand patterns of movement such as migration routes over the years
  • Overlay static and real time map features such as private land boundaries and current forest fire spread
  • Upload custom point data, as well as map features and boundaries for contextual analysis
  • Set up alerts to be sent by email or SMS based on geofencing conditions for specific animals or species

“The success of the Wildlife Tracker project using GCP and BQ has fundamentally changed how we approach data storage and application infrastructure. We have achieved the elusive goal of being able to visualize wildlife movement across the landscape of Utah at a scale we didn’t imagine. We think differently now.”

Buck Ehler
GIS Manager, State of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources,

Admins can configure access restrictions so that permissioned users can securely check the animals locations while limiting access to specific species/collars for others. BigQuery returns results very quickly, but we are able to throttle how quickly they load to avoid crashing a user’s browser session and burdening network bandwidth. By rebuilding the Wildlife Tracker solution on Google Cloud Platform, it is future proof and ready for massive scale.

Thought Leadership

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