omething wild is happening with conservation IT projects. Sensors,
big data and drones are helping global not-for-profit organizations
track populations and identify threats to some of the world’s most
endangered animals. These ambitious projects aim to stop ruthless
poachers and preserve dwindling habitats—all in an attempt to
save at-risk species from extinction.
And the need for high-tech help is urgent. The earth’s wild ver-tebrae population was more than halved between 1970 and 2010,
The goals of IT conservation projects range from protecting elephants and
rhinoceroses in Africa to preserving bumblebees and sea turtles in North
America. And the risks these projects face are just as varied. Whether they’re
battling natural forces, corruption or uncooperative animals, project managers
must fall back on the fundamentals.
“Conservation projects need to apply project management methodologies,
because the unpredictable scenario is very much a part of [these] projects,” says
Elena Bulmer, PMP, biodiversity project coordinator for environmental organization Worldwatch Institute Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
AGAINST THE ELEMENTS
Given the unpredictable nature of conservation fieldwork, extensive testing is
the first step for any project run by Panthera, a New York, New York, USA-based organization that uses cameras to track the population of tigers and
other wild cats around the world. So far, the organization has deployed more
than 9,500 cameras—some of which need to operate glitch-free in the wild for
as long as five years, says Chris Cline, Panthera’s chief technologist, New York,
New York, USA. P H