It is becoming increasingly clear that technology is advancing at such a rate that tasks that once took conservationists weeks or months have been cut down to a number of days. This includes the use of equipment such as camera traps, drones, and custom-built prototypes that are project specific. If, like me, you enjoy the fun of developing your own piece of kit in order to help answer a burning scientific question then I have great news for you! There is an exisiting online community called WILDLABS.NET (found at the web address of the same name). It is a combined community of conservationists, engineers, data scientists, and other stakeholders. The platform is designed to share information, ideas, tools and resources from the community to help others discover and implement technology-enabled solutions to conservation challenges. It is now, more than ever, that technology is needed if we are going to solve the most pressing conservation challenges of the modern age.
The community itself is run in association with United for Wildlife, a charitable organisation that is the collaborative efforts of multiple non-governmental organisations such as WWF and ZSL. The great thing is that whether you are using a new piece of kit that has already been built, or designing your own from the ground up, you should be able to find a member of the online community who is able to help! I have first-hand experience of this: I designed a passive acoustic monitoring system for amphibians to use in Borneo. It had a few teething issues, and I was not sure if the components I tested the system with would stand up to the elements in the rainforest. Thankfully, multiple members of the community were able to help and, if it were not for them, the project would probably not have gone ahead.
It is not just advice and guidance that the community provides, but also an opportunity to collaborate and network. Every scientist knows that the key to success is a combination of these two things, and networking with people from all over the world with the same technological problems or solutions is a great solution! Thus, WILDLABS.NET provides the conservation community with a much-needed tool to facilitate future partnerships between individuals and groups.