SMART (the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) is a suite of tools for measuring, evaluating and improving the effectiveness of site-based conservation and wildlife law enforcement patrols. It is designed to be simple to use in a world of limited capacity and resources. SMART includes a desktop application, training and implementation manuals, web-based training materials, standardised protocols and an active community of users who can share experiences to improve SMART over the long-term.
SMART is designed with protected areas in mind. It provides sites with an integrated platform to plan, execute, evaluate, improve and report on anti-poaching and conservation management initiatives (see images below). As of may 2016, SMART has been implemented in 148 sites in 31 countries worldwide since the 2013 launch.
The SMART application uses spatial data collected by rangers or community monitors on threats, patrol effort and conservation actions in order to document results, improve performance, and evaluate effectiveness of monitoring strategies. SMART also integrates biological monitoring data, intelligence information, and other incident reports to provide a comprehensive assessment of conservation of a protected area. SMART works with paper-based data collection and GPS-enabled mobile devices through integration with the CyberTracker data collection app.
The next edition, SMART Connect, will be released late in 2016 and will enhance the way SMART data can be used, analysed and visualised. SMART Connect will be an online platform designed to manage entire protected area networks. It is expected to integrate real-time data streams from a variety of field sensors and systems, and enable centralised control and analysis.
An example of the use of SMART for community-based forest monitoring comes from the Uaxactún Community Forest Concession, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR), Guatemala. Here, the Organisation for Management and Conservation (OMYC) implemented SMART, enabling them to demonstrate effective control of their forest concession. SMART integration in the MBR aims to support long-term, organised and transparent protection initiatives. Improved law enforcement monitoring resulted in decreased annual deforestation of its vegetative cover from 1% to 0.55% annually and demonstrated that SMART can be viable and valuable in community-based settings.
- Free and open-source
- Available in multiple languages (software available in ten languages, the manual in eight)
- Designed for, and customisable by, users at the site level
- Supports implementation across national networks of protected areas
- Puts sophisticated analysis and standardised, automated reporting in the hands of conservationists without requiring extensive technical capacity
- Supported by a long-term sustainability plan and a global partnership
- Being built to perform in both connected and disconnected environments
- Built-in capacity building and user-support network
- The data collected can be entered directly into the desktop application (if monitors use a GPS and paper data sheet) or imported directly via mobile devices (enabled through the CyberTracker plugin)
- While it holds rangers and monitors accountable for where they go, it relies on trust for reporting of observations
- The software alone will not improve protection, basic enforcement capacity, equipment (e.g. computer and GPS) and infrastructure are required
- Although SMART was designed to operate in difficult or remote environments, technical support from experts for training and set up enables more successful implementation
Screenshots and images
A few screenshots are given below; please see the SMART website for a large number of manuals, instructional videos, reports and further resources.