I spent around 15 years delving into the minutiae of the technology sector. You name an innovation in IT – from cloud to serverless, from SaaS to AI, and I was immersed in it. The time came, however, that I wanted to focus on IT was a tool for the betterment of people and the planet. IT as means, rather than the end.

Which is why it always warms my heart to come across an example of tech being applied to something good in the world,. Today’s example comes all the way from South Africa.

Cambium Networks’ reason for being is to help otherwise disconnected people and places get… connected. Through a range of different products and services, they help a vast range of high-needs industries – governmental and military agencies, oil and gas operations, utility companies and public safety networks – ensure connectivity that is reliable and fit for purpose. So while Cambium may not be the entity ensuring the bits get to your device right now, chances are the person working on the overhead lines deep in the desert somewhere, the oil exploration team off the cost, or the rescue service deployed to a disaster-ravaged country is leveraging stuff from Cambium.

The company contacted me awhile back to tell me about a philanthropic initiative they’ve gotten involved with. Read on.

We all know that Rhinos are one of the more high-profile threatened species in Africa and much of that threat (beyond habitat loss and the like) is related to illegal poaching. It seems bizarre that in this day and age  Rhino or Elephant ivory would be in any way appealing – especially since pretty much everyone understands that a great animal had to die to create the trinket in question – but I guess as the seemingly regular pictures of tech execs standing proudly next to bears they’ve shot can attest to, morality is a strange thing.

Anyway – I was under the naïve assumption that Rhinos pretty much lived in zoos, game parks or vast African reserves. I didn’t realize the somewhat jarring fact that actually a number of rhinos are owned privately. South Africa is a custodian of some 19,000 white rhinos, of which around 20% are in private ownership. These private owners may have land holdings themselves on which their rhino roam. But unfortunately these private areas are not immune from poaching themselves, and after Insimbi and Shambula, two privately owned white rhinos, were butchered for their ivory back in 2014, a group was formed to jointly help in the fight against poaching.

The Limpopo Rhino Security Group (LRSG) was established as a network of private landowners and rhino guardians with a view to pooling resources in the fight against poachers. The need to band together is huge given the fact that these individuals are not eligible for any government funding for rhino protection. The LRSG covers a 250,000-acre conservation area protecting a significant number of rhinos, and the group has found partners in the private sector for their protection needs.

Which is where Cambium comes in. Using Cambium’s outdoor broadband platform and a bunch of wireless backhaul links, alongside both visible light and thermal surveillance cameras also donated to LRSG, the group has created an early-warning system. All the video footage is transferred (thanks to Cambium’s kit) to a single command center which can deploy rapid-response units as soon as suspicious activity is detected near the park’s boundaries.

And it seems to be working – LRSG reports an 82% drop in rhino poaching cases in their area in the last six months alone. While it may not garner as much attention as whether the next iPhone will have a notch or no notch, and isn’t nearly as impactful as the news of Netflix’ new-season shows, this is an awesome example of the technology industry doing something good for the world.

Ben Kepes is a Canterbury-based entrepreneur and professional board member. He loves what tech can do for the world. 

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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