CATCH THE BUZZ – Rural Crime Innovation Challenge Winners Help Keep Things Where they Belong.

Alan Harman

Jeff Shirley, owner of Rivercity Technology Services Limited and William Topping (right), founder of Brand X Technologies, are going to work together to develop technology that aims to improve the security of rural citizens and property. (CBC)

 Saskatchewan beekeeper and technology innovator Jeff Shirley is named the winner of the Canadian province’s first Rural Crime Innovation Challenge. 

   The challenge is focused on addressing rural crime in Saskatchewan.

   Shirley, owner and principal consultant of Rivercity Technology Services Ltd., will work on a project to develop prototypes to improve the safety and security of rural citizens and property.

   The device has it origins back when bears began raiding his 200-hive apiary and he set out to solve the problem with a software solution.

   “I built an app for helping track assets in the bee yard – the bees themselves and the boxes,” he tells the Regina Leader-Post newspaper.

    Then Shirley teamed up with William Topping, a hardware engineer with Brand X Technologies, to design a motion-sensing device that farmers can attach to their property.

   “It’s a small little box that uses a combination of modern cellphone technology, accelerometers, GPS, a few other cool gadgets inside,” Shirley said.

   If its is moved in anyway, it sends a text to the farmer.

   Farmers can view the location of the disturbance on Google maps. The GPS lets them track the movement of their property in real time.

    “It is waterproof, and it works in Saskatchewan weather,” Shirley said.

   If the prototype meets the needs identified by the Ministry of Justice, it will be deployed in a pilot project, refined as necessary and eventually commercialized.

   Innovation Minister Steven Bonk says the Rural Crime Innovation Challenge is a new approach to helping Saskatchewan address crime.

   “The response to this program by tech companies and researchers speaks to the opportunity that exists to use technology to help solve everyday challenges in our province,” he says

      Winning the challenge means a C$10,000 (US$7.880) grant to work on the prototype. And Shirley and Topping will participate in a 16-week residency program with the Ministry of Justice.

   The goal is for rural residents to be able to use the device to log the events in an application that would immediately alert law enforcement officers. The GPS would make the device, which can be placed on property, trackable on mobile devices.

   “If it’s two in the morning, and your combine is going on a drive all by itself, you would flag that as suspicious,” Shirley said.

    A software component will help police aggregate and analyze data about rural crime, based on the activity the boxes pick up.

    “They will have the ability to monitor specific events and react accordingly and live-map them,” Shirley said.

   “We are excited to see the technology sector’s involvement in addressing crime in rural Saskatchewan,” Justice Minister Attorney General Don Morgan said. “This will help us find creative solutions to make Saskatchewan a safer place to live and raise a family.”