WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series: Season Two

The WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series is a program of webinars that bring leading engineers in the tech sector together with conservation practitioners to share information, identify obstacles, and discuss how to best move forward.

The most recent virtual meetup was on Creative Approaches to Data-Driven Storytelling. The recording and notes are available here.

Published Date: 2019/03/11

Introduction

The WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series is a program of webinars for community members and wider partners to discuss emerging topics in conservation technology and leverage existing community groups for virtual exchange. The aim of the series is to bring leading engineers in the tech sector together with conservation practitioners to share information, identify obstacles, and discuss how to best move forward.

Season One of the series took place in late 2018, covering new data collection techniques through Networked Sensors for Security and Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) Prevention and Next-Generation Wildlife Tracking, and effective utilization of that information through Big Data in Conservation.

Season Two is running from April - June of 2019 and is exploring different models for collaboration, the low-cost tools these approaches are producing, and what we can do with the data they’re generating. The three topics being covered are Low-Cost Open-Source Solutions, Tools and Spaces for Collaboration, and Creative Approaches to Data-Driven Storytelling.

There is a lively discussion about the topics members would like to have space to discuss, so if you have ideas about specific discussion points you'd like to see covered during these meetups please join the thread and share your thoughts.

Outcomes

  • Bring conservation and tech leaders into conversation beyond siloed groups and efforts
  • Highlight current efforts
  • Identify obstacles and ways forward

Format

  1. Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  2. Opening speaker – current tech landscape (10 min)
  3. Engineer and conservation practitioner speed talks (10 min each)
  4. Q&A discussion (20 min)
  5. Optional ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)
  6. Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Meetup 1: Low-Cost, Open-Source Solutions

Date & Time

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

3:00-4:30pm GMT / 10:00-11:30am EDT

Background & Need

Despite critical advancements in the tech solutions available to conservationists around the world, many existing tools are cost-prohibitive in the landscapes that need them most. Additionally, those who create low-cost and open-source alternatives to pricey market tech are often operating on tight budgets themselves, meaning they have limited resources for the promotion of their solutions to a wider market. There is a need for increased communication around these solutions to highlight their availability, share lessons learned in their creation, and avoid duplication of efforts. The Arribada Initiative and OpenCollar are both examples of current efforts in this arena.

Outcomes

The aims of this discussion are as follows: to introduce low-cost, open-source devices for conservation; to describe how they are being used, including what needs they are addressing and how they fit in to the wider conservation tech market; to identify the obstacles in advancing the capacity of these technologies; and to discuss the future of these solutions - particularly their sustainability and how best to collaborate moving forward.

Agenda 

  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  • Alasdair Davies,  Founder of Arribada Initiative, Co-Founder of Naturebytes, Conservation Technology Specialist at ZSL, and a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow (10 min)
  • David Lang, Co-Founder of OpenROV and Open Explorer (10 min)
  • Tanya Berger-Wolf, Co-Founder and Director of Wildbook.org and Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (10 min)
  • Q&A discussion with speakers (20 min)
  • Optional ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)
  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Recording

Watch the virtual meetup here. You can also check out our notes and suggested reading section based on the discussion.

Meetup 2: Tools and Spaces for Collaboration

Date & Time

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

2:00-3:30pm GMT / 10:00-11:30am EDT

Background & Need

WILDLABS aims to facilitate collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts in conservation tech. While community members generally want to collaborate more effectively and avoid reinventing the wheel in their solutions, many still struggle with how to actually go about doing this. For example, in our original call for input for this series, one member requested a discussion addressing "How best to collaborate, share resources and spread design and testing loads without doubling up". 

We need a virtual meetup to illuminate the potential of spaces both online (e.g. GitHub) and in the field (makerspaces / innovation labs), as well as the tools they provide to facilitate collaboration around conservation tech. For applications ranging from data sharing to open-source hardware development and beyond, it is necessary to identify what these tools and spaces offer and how to best utilize them to advance conservation capacity.

Outcomes

The aims of this discussion are as follows: to introduce tools and spaces for collaboration in the context of conservation tech; to describe how they are being used, including what needs they are addressing and how they fit in to the wider ecosystem; to identify the obstacles in advancing the capacity of these tools and spaces; and to discuss their role in the future of conservation tech.

Agenda 

  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  • Lou Woodley, Director of the AAAS Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (10 min)
  • Corinne Pitts, Services Solutions Engineer at GitHub (10 min)
  • Shah Selbe, Conservation Technologist, National Geographic Explorer & Fellow, and Founder of Conservify (10 min)
  • Makerspaces around the world - contributions from Andrew Quitmeyer in Panama, Damian Otieno in Kenya, and Akiba in Japan (2 min each)
  • Q&A discussion with speakers (15 min)
  • Ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)
  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Recording

Watch the virtual meetup here. You can also check out our notes and suggested reading section based on the discussion.

Meetup 3: Creative Approaches to Data-Driven Storytelling

Date & Time

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

2:00-3:30pm GMT / 10:00-11:30am EDT

Background & Need

New tech developments are enabling conservation data collection on an unprecedented scale, but is getting the data enough? In our December meetup on Big Data in Conservation, we discussed how machine learning tools can help us put these massive stores of information to use. However, a major takeaway from this discussion was that actually utilizing big data often requires taking a step beyond data processing and into the realm of storytelling, which plays a critical role in closing the gap between data and decision-makers. 

With so much of the focus on exciting new data collection and processing technologies, the importance of data-driven storytelling may be underestimated - our Big Data speakers and attendees agreed that this is an area in which the conservation tech community has significant room for development. There are, however, some exciting efforts leading the way. A few of these include Internet of Elephants' tools for consumer engagement with wildlife, from interactive data visualizations to social media filters and even video games; National Geographic Society's work on Vital Signs of the Planet and Earth Pulse in their Geographic Visualization Lab; and Vizzuality's beautiful data design work that enables platforms like Global Forest Watch, Global Fishing Watch, and Half-Earth. 

Outcomes

The aims of this discussion are as follows: to introduce data-driven storytelling in the context of conservation tech; to describe how it is being used, including its value and place in the wider ecosystem, and how we can better take advantage of existing approaches; to identify the obstacles in advancing the capacity of these tools/approaches (e.g. lack of funding compared to more big-name tech); and to discuss its role in the future of conservation tech.

Agenda 

  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  • Jason Pearson, Founder of TRUTHstudio; Founding President & CEO of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (10 min)
  • Camellia Williams, Lead Writer at Vizzuality (10 min)
  • Gautam Shah, Founder of Internet of Elephants; National Geographic Explorer (10 min)
  • Q&A discussion with speakers (20 min)
  • Optional ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)
  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Recording

Watch the virtual meetup here. You can also check out our notes and suggested reading section based on the discussion.