SPAN - A platform to monitor bird protection areas

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Abstract

The foundation for life on our planet are all the resources we can draw upon: sunlight, clean water, fresh air and many more. But one existential resource a lot of people are not aware of, is the rich variety of life forms on earth.
Biodiversity surrounds us every day: It is in the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the medicine we take. It is also an important driver for tourism, economy and technology: Various technological innovations are directly inspired by nature.
But biodiversity is degrading rapidly caused by the rising land consumption in many countries. In Germany, this pressure is exceedingly high: 70% of natural habitats are endangered, 40% of animal species are on the IUCN red list and every second bird species is threatened.
Using scientific methods and inventive technology, SPAN helps to monitor bird protection areas in Germany and to collect data as a basis to enforce conservation supported by European legislation.

Inspiration and Method

Involving all important stakeholders was inevitable to make sure the result will fit their needs. In meetings with coordinators of different existing caretaker networks in Berlin I learned about the organizational aspects and got an holistic perspective on the topic. The creation of blueprint drafts and stakeholder maps in an early phase was an effective way to figure out what kind of touchpoints are needed by which users.
Voluntary caretakers who monitor protection areas are the primary users, so I conducted interviews with caretakers of other networks to learn everything about their monitoring work, their needs and experiences.
An in-depth analysis and synthesis of my research findings led to the ideation phase where I explored in which ways I could involve, educate, bond and assist caretakers with diverse profiles. Getting their feedback on the ideas helped me to select the most promising concepts and consolidate the final result.

Result

SPAN consists of a web-application and a smartphone app performing a wide range of functions for caretakers of protection areas. With their help they can retrieve information, network with other caretakers, conduct monitoring activities and submit reports about the condition of protection areas.
With SPAN, caretakers can learn about habitats, species, and other caretakers who help with monitoring them. Together they can plan their activities and exchange information with the shared schedule and annotation tools.
With the smartphone app, caretakers can take notes or retrieve location based information while being out in the field. Another mobile feature are customizable print-out forms making the caretakers independent from access to power or signal-coverage.
Filled-in forms are digitalized and put into the database with the help of an image recognition scanning tool.
With SPAN, caretakers can also lend unmanned photogrammetry vehicles to conduct aerial monitoring in a feasible and easy-to-use way.