Digital technologies

phone circle

Community-based forest monitoring initiatives across the world are taking up digital technology, including GPS, mobile data collection, and even drones.

The use of such technology is well-established in humanitarian aid where it has enabled the rapid collection and sharing of much needed information in the aftermath of crises. Apps are also being used to share vital information with the public, for example in Bangladesh citizens can register with their mobile company to receive relevant health care information by SMS, such as prenatal advice tailored to their stage of pregnancy.

More broadly, citizen science has harnessed the potential to turn thousands of mobile phone owners into data collectors, with apps such as the Big Garden Bird Watch generating data from 400,000 users across the UK.

This raises the question of how digital technology can support the integration of community-based forest monitoring within local, national and international information systems on forests, such as REDD+, FLEGT and the CBD.

It is important to remember that technology is just a tool to support monitoring. Pen and paper are just as valid a tool as smartphones, and in some contexts may well be the most effective.

This section of the website should help you work out if digital technology is right for your project and what considerations you should take into account. There are pages to help you decide whether to choose phones, smartphones or tablets; what sort of network could be best for you; and what software to use - we have a handy table showing the pros and cons of different smartphone applications. You can explore these topics using the links to the right.

This is a rapidly changing area, where continued innovation makes it hard to keep track of the different options. Luckily this website has a lot of resources to help with this; a few of them are listed in relevant resources below. Also, each of our case studies has a section describing the digital technology they use.