standby patrol data system adds communication capability

  • SMART software helps rangers and protected area managers report, analyze and manage field data to target their patrolling and management activities.
  • A new extension to SMART allows a user to centrally manage data downloaded from multiple sites and synchronize changes made by various users to a database.
  • SMART Connect wirelessly communicates field observation data from patrolling guards to managers and colleagues observing remotely; instant data transmission to the central server requires rangers to have wifi or cellular network coverage.

Increasingly well-funded poaching gangs, along with pressure from the ever-increasing surrounding human populations, have made protecting wildlife and nature reserves a sometimes dangerous and uncertain way of earning a living.

To deal with these threats with generally understaffed patrol teams, managers of several hundred protected areas around the world have turned to the free and open source space monitoring and reporting tool. (CLEVER) make their patrols more strategic.

Rangers on patrol collect sighting and location data from datasheets, a GPS device, or an electronic data collection tool, such as CyberTracker. A team member then downloads data files or enters the information manually into SMART software, where it is stored for display and analysis.

Rangers in Nigeria train to use SMART mobile data collection. Photo credit: Richard Bergl, North Carolina Zoo

The results of a given patrol effort may include a single notable arrest, an animal carcass, or a hunting camp. However, when compiled and analyzed, this data and its locations can help managers adjust their management and patrolling efforts to meet the specific challenges of an area.

Reserve managers use SMART to store and manage data and to generate statistics, maps and other visual displays to see where guards are going, what they are seeing and where, and how they are reacting. In an effort to help managers focus limited resources to make their patrols more efficient, the software allows managers to collect and manage disparate field observational data, generate statistics, see trends and d ” adjust their patrols accordingly.

SMART developers have added a new extension to the SMART reporting tool, SMART Connect, which speeds up the communication of information collected by field patrols with their managers and colleagues.

Koh Rong Archipelago: Cambodia's first large-scale marine protected area.  The use of SMART in Cambodia's first multiple-use MPA began to provide local fishery officers with spatial and temporal information on fishing violations, allowing them to issue 28 warnings to violating vessels over the past five years. first months of operation.
Rangers in the Koh Rong archipelago, Cambodia’s first large-scale marine protected area. Using SMART at Koh Rong provided local fishery officers with spatial and temporal information on fishing violations, enabling them to issue 28 warnings to offending vessels in the first five months of operation. Photo credit: Marianne Teoh | FFI

SMART Connect is an optional SMART software plug-in that allows users to store and manage data on a web-connected database. It can be installed in the cloud or on local on-premises servers. The new add-on is expected to allow users to improve and adapt their data management with several new capabilities.

1. Manage multiple sites centrally: The Connect extension manages the data flow in the cloud so that multiple people can work on a particular conservation area database at the same time. The extension synchronizes all changes to the central server so that all users are working on an updated version of staff deployment, field data, queries, maps and reports. The plug-in also allows non-SMART users, such as decision makers in other government departments, to access report results.

“By enabling communication and data sharing across multiple sites, and even across national networks of protected areas, Connect streamlines information management and facilitates more informed and adaptive decision-making among all stakeholders,” Drew Cronin, manager of the program hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society on behalf of the SMART partnership that develops the software, in an email to Mongabay-Wildtech.

Environmental agencies in several countries, including Belize, Cambodia and the Philippines, have started applying the Connect extension to compile data collected from various conservation areas into centralized databases for their reserve networks. Belize’s Department of Fisheries has created a centralized SMART Connect database that automatically gathers data from fishery officers and rangers in the country’s marine protected areas system.

In the Philippines, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) staff collect data from nearly 200 different conservation areas using mobile devices and send the information wirelessly to a national SMART database. Connect.

“We have integrated SMART into the [USAID-developed] Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System, ”Nonito M. Tamayo, director of the DENR Forest Management Office, said in a press release. “SMART Connect… helps our decision-makers analyze and visualize data collected in the field to develop policies and management interventions for sustainable forest management.

2. Transmit field data in real time: The new cloud-based add-on allows rangers in conservation areas to transmit their patrol data in real time, if a cellular network is available, to enable a faster response to an incident or an intrusion into a Park.

Sami Ullah Majeed, UAE ranger commented as he watched colleagues in Cambodia catch a poacher in the act: “SMART is convenient here as these incidents are recorded on a digital platform, and [it] makes it easier for managers to see and develop a plan to resolve these issues. And with SMART Connect, data delivery will be in real time and any assistance or instruction can be delivered in real time.

Community residents use mobile data collection tools during SMART patrols in the Philippines.
Community residents use mobile data collection tools during SMART patrols in the Philippines. Photo credit: USAID / B + WISER

3. Add alerts to certain field observations: The new expansion also allows ranger teams to configure their patrol schedule with an alert trigger associated with a particular type of sighting, such as a new carcass or an armed intruder. If a ranger records such a sighting on their SMART-configured mobile device, the sighting and alert are automatically sent to the Connect server via the device’s cellular network (if available) so that coworkers are notified and react to the call. situation.

Cronin commented, “We originally planned alerts for critical events such as the appearance of poachers, but we are seeing users offering to use them for other purposes, for example, reporting when rangers are taking a break. patrol. Alerts are fed into a secure online card, allowing the operations room team to slice and review data, for example, based on alert priority or observation type.

Fast communication in SMART Connect relies on the availability of a wifi or cellular network, so its ability to transmit field data or real-time alerts may be limited in remote or densely forested sites.

“Connect facilitates the transfer of data in ‘as close to real time’ as the infrastructure of a particular site allows,” explained Cronin. “So for SMART patrols implementing Connect that are within cellular range, they are able to instantly transmit data and alerts to a central Connect server. For patrolling areas where there is no cellular coverage, data can be transmitted as soon as the rangers are back in the coverage area or have internet.

Patrols in the Congo determine their location.
Forest rangers in Congo determine their location and destination when patrolling. Photo credit: Forrest Hogg | WCS

4. Integration with other programs: The new add-on allows users to import data from other programs to improve the display and analysis potential of the program and provide users with more services.

“SMART Connect has an API suite for data integration,” said Cronin. “We have developed some standard integrations and are finalizing others, such as the Global Forest Watch and Camera Trap integrations. It’s an open system, and all of our code is 100% open source, so if any of our users want to go ahead with an integration before we develop a standard integration, we’re ready to take it. charged.

He added that SMART is currently developing integrations with:

  • WILDTrack, for public data capture and SMS reporting
  • Hytera, to improve radio communications and ranger management
  • Vulcan’s Domain Awareness System (DAS), to compile field data from multiple sources into a single dashboard
  • R statistical calculation software, to analyze field data in more detail
  • ArcGIS, for spatial analysis and mapping
  • Tableau, to help users visualize the data they report.

According to Cronin, the development team sees the Connect extension “as the first step in the continued evolution of SMART from a law enforcement monitoring tool to a holistic protected areas management platform. peak”.

The Connect extension was launched on October 5, 2017, but test training on the new version has taken place over the past few months on partner sites. Nine partner groups are committed to long-term support for the SMART tool, and it has been used at hundreds of land and marine sites in over 45 countries around the world.

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