The new Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) system being developed by WCS, WWF, ZSL, North Carolina Zoo, Frankfurt Zoological Society, and CITES/MIKE will enhance the law enforcement and monitoring in conservation areas. SMART is easier and more user-friendly than Management Information System (MIST), which is what frontline practitioners have been using while on patrol. SMART will gradually replace MIST in the field. The first global scale SMART training was held in South Africa last September. That training was especially for people who will be teaching others to use it. Representatives from the organizations involved with developing the software attended the training.
A briefing for partner organizations on the status and scope of SMART was organized Nov. 1, at WWF-US. A SMART Training Workshop was organized in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand in November.
SMART Training workshop.
I participated in the first SMART training workshop to test the beta version of the software. The workshop was hosted by the Department of National Parks and WCS Thailand. I found the SMART system more user-friendly and flexible compared to MIST and easy to learn. It still collects pretty much the same patrol information. However, SMART provides a lot of options and flexibility for analysis, patrol queries, summaries, reports, maps, tables and charts for different levels of users (administrator, manager, analyst, and data entry).
For example, it easily evaluates patrol performance (per team or per guard post/station), monitoring threats, impact of law enforcement management, effectiveness of enforcement, etc. It has the necessary flexibility to tailor data in a way that is relevant to individual conservation areas. You don’t need to be a geographic information system expert to use SMART, which means you don’t need to constantly switch back-and-forth from using SMART and GIS.
GPS coordinates can be directly downloaded to the system. Unlike MIST, you can log multiple observations for one waypoint avoiding creation of a separate waypoint for each observation. A built-in species list that you can add or inactivate as needed, recording multi-leg patrol data (e.g., splitting of one team to take a separate patrol route as needed and merging again together), and export the report with map, chart, and other queries in one package for others to view. It will also allow you to develop add-on tools as needed.
We detected some bugs in the software during the workshop which are being fixed by the system developers. SMART will be available in 5 different languages (possibly Thai, Bahasa, Russian, French, and Spanish) when its full option V 1.0 is available in January 2013. Additional features like modules on intelligence and planning, finalized gridded analysis, new faster data entry format, help files, and localization with ability to use multiple languages will be added. A coordinated approach will be made by partners to the governments for the adoption of this system in conservation areas. SMART will be open source and available to anybody.
You can learn more about SMART and write them directly with questions. More SMART Training Workshops are being planned in TRCs in the near future to train national and site focal points on its use and begin to build up a regional SMART community and facilitate implementations.
—Mahendra Shrestha, program director, Tiger Conservation Partnership