Last updated November 2015
CyberTracker is an application for the collection and assessment of geo-referenced observations originally developed for Community Game Guards (CCGs) in 1997. Cybertracker allowed the CCGs to overcome literacy barriers with its icon-based intuitive interface, and has since been adapted for multiple applications within the environmental field.
The software uses digital forms that can be customised to monitor any parameters that the user wishes on Android Smartphones, Samsung Galaxy Camera, Tablets or Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). Cybertracker does not work on iPhones or Windows 7 or 8 Phones. The survey designer will be required to install the software on a laptop or computer in order to create the digital forms, which will be specific to the screen size and specifications of the devices being used by the data collection teams.
A step by step tutorial is available for using the software, and it can be found here on the Cybertracker website.
New users might find it easier to adapt an existing digital forms to their needs, a survey form for wildlife monitoring with icons can downloaded here. The software has also been applied for monitoring forests for REDD by communities and digital forms are available for biomass inventory here. Lessons learned about applying Cybertracker for community REDD monitoring can be read here.
Cybertracker has the following strengths and weaknesses for community-based forest monitoring:
- As the software was the first available for smartphone-based community monitoring, it has a large community of online trouble shooters who can help support new initiatives;
- Electronic field guides are available for species identification, as is a large bank of wildlife icons for different biomes;
- Software is not reliant on transmission of forms by internet or local area network, therefore set up and maintenance costs are reduced;
- Icon-based wildlife surveys are very intuitive for data collectors and can transform expert tracking skills into scientific, geo-referenced observations.
- Survey designers do not require programming skills, but they do need to be comfortable with using a fairly complex interface when designing the forms (see figure below), this means that community's may not be able to use the software without external support and influence;
- Digital forms can not be used across digital devices without being first adapted for screen widths.
- Sapelli also focuses on icon-based approaches;
- Open Data Kit also allows customization based on generic forms from a large online community.
How can I learn more?
Cybertracker software, digital forms and tutorials are all available on the website here. A large library of resources for the software, including case studies of how it has been applied, can be found here.