The Belgian Polar Secretariat, SIGFOX and SENSOLUS today announced a partnership to connect the 2015-16 BELARE expedition, based in the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station, to the global SIGFOX network. The goal is to strengthen safety and security during research operations at the Belgian polar-exploration station for the crew during their Antarctic expedition.

The 2015-16 BELARE expedition includes a team of technicians and researchers specialized in glaciology, climatology and geomorphology in charge of various Belgian and international scientific projects. These projects are key to the understanding climate change and sustainability of the planet.

During this mission, expedition members will be equipped for the first time with 45 GPS trackers connected to the SIGFOX network, allowing real-time tracking of their movements and some of their equipment, in often-extreme weather conditions.

Each partner will bring its expertise to this unique collaboration. The Belgian Polar Secretariat operates the station and oversees the crew and equipment. The Belgian startup SENSOLUS provides the 45 GPS trackers operating with long-lasting batteries and SIGFOX will ensure the connection of these trackers to its low-power network with only two antennas installed at the station. SIGFOX’s ultra-narrow band (UNB) technology enables a signal range of more than 40 kilometers in open space.

The unique monitoring system aims at securing the operations of the Belgian teams in the field. Working in harsh conditions in a barren environment, the teams sometimes are far away from the Princess Elisabeth station. Tests are being conducted now during Antarctica’s summer.

Antarctica is the earth’s coldest, windiest and harshest continent. In the wintertime, temperatures reach a minimum range of -80°C to -90°C. Highs during summer are 5-15°C, near the coasts. The continent’s katabatic, or descending winds that carry air downward, can reach 250 km/h, with an atmospheric pressure of 830 hPa. Variable rainfall adds to snowdrifts, and on top of that, it is light round the clock for 100 days of the austral summer.

First results on the contribution of the Internet of Things and SIGFOX’s connectivity solution to the mission will be released in March 2016.

“This partnership will allow us to test technology that could be useful for the safety of our operations in Antarctica,” said Rachid Touzani, director of the Belgian Polar Secretariat. “However, the security of women and men we send to Antarctica to implement key scientific projects for the preservation of mankind is a top priority for the Belgian Polar Secretariat. In addition, this collaboration perfectly answers our ongoing commitment to include the industrial world in our development projects. This commitment is also part of the strategy of the State Secretary for Science Policy, Ms. Elke Sleurs. So we wait, eagerly, for the test results in March.”

“We fully support the BELARE expedition and are convinced that the Internet of Things is a great opportunity to ensure the safety of high-risk operations by Belgian teams in Antarctica,” said Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, co-founders of SIGFOX.

“We wish to commit ourselves to support the causes that are all or part of the solution with SIGFOX’s connectivity solution and sensors connected to the Internet. In that perspective, we are today launching SIGFOX Foundation, that will operate nonprofit missions”.

“Having our extremely battery-efficient StickNTrack GPS trackers at the Princess Elisabeth station is very exciting,” said SENSOLUS CEO Kristoff van Rattinghe.

“We strongly believe that sustaining missions like the BELARE 2015-16 is the kind of real innovation we can achieve with the Internet of Things. And this is only possible through strong collaborations like the one set up for this mission. Via this collaboration, great opportunities are created to take big steps forward in the team’s knowledge of climatic changes and mission management.”

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