Building a Conservation Tech Story with Community Data
The WILDLABS community plays a vital role in helping researchers and tech developers understand the real experiences and needs of conservation technology users.
Over the past year, as the global pandemic impacted the work of many in the conservation field, technology became even more important in helping conservation adapt to shifting project plans, lack of field access, and other challenges. Within the WILDLABS community's diverse experiences and challenges is a story about conservation technology's role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though there's much more story to uncover, the responses so far are already demonstrating how this information can help us use conservation technology more effectively if and when future crises arise.
Our 2020 State of Conservation Technology survey collected some preliminary stats about the community's experiences during the pandemic, and Vulcan's current survey in partnership with EMC Research and with support from WILDLABS is further exploring the topic now, as we approach some version of a "return to normal."
Check out what the stats from these surveys have revealed so far, and join the discussion yourself by contributing your own experiences. Vulcan's survey will take only ten minutes, and the data collected from your experiences will help us see the big picture of conservation technology's response to the pandemic.
The Story So Far
While Vulcan's survey is still open for community responses, the data so far shows the following trends:
- Participants have reported using the following technologies most regularly throughout the pandemic: AIS, VMS, vehicle tracking, or other asset tracking systems, GIS, and camera traps.
- Participants have reported that their ability to engage in fieldwork, along with project and institutional budgets, have faced the most negative impacts because of the pandemic.
A large majority of participants agree that conservation technology has helped them respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
As ongoing responses to the survey fill out this picture, the data seems to align with what we uncovered in last year's State of Conservation Technology survey, where we asked the following COVID-related questions:
Please briefly describe the impacts of COVID-19 on your work, now and in the near future:
- Nearly half (46%) of survey participants reported challenges completing their field or lab work due to COVID-19.
- Nearly a quarter (23%) of survey participants reported concerns about funding or job security as a result of COVID-19.
*The word cloud above reflects the responses to this question.
In your opinion, what is the role of technology in helping conservation efforts adapt to COVID-19 and/or mitigate the risks of future pandemics?
Participants most frequently mentioned:
- Increasing remote monitoring capacity
- Capitalizing on opportunities associated with online engagement
- Employing conservation tech to mitigate risks of future pandemics
- Importance of building local capacity: E.g., "Building up in-situ capacity so that international travel is not required, communications can happen across countries, and data can continue to be collected by local collaborators"
Does this data reflect your experiences with conservation technology work throughout the COVID-19 crisis?