The simple task of understanding “who’s doing what where” in collaborative conservation turns out to be not that simple after all. And how does the central notion of collaboration through which each collaborative conservation group operates pertain to my task at hand (developing a central database system and associated visualizations of who is indeed doing what, where) fit into my own work?
First a little background. My Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC) Fellowship aims to develop a website that serves as a database and visual atlas of sorts to help us better understand which collaborative conservation groups exist throughout Colorado, what their activities are, how did they form, where are they located, who is the main contact, how long have they been in existence, what are their mission, vision, goals, and objectives, and what topics do they focus on, to name only a few. Fortunately, Ch’aska Huayhuaca, a graduate student and staff member at the CCC, is helping me develop this Collaborative Conservation Atlas (CCA). Her efforts have been astounding – she has mostly single handedly (with help from a few CCC undergraduates) developed a spreadsheet of all the collaborative conservation groups she could find in Colorado as a starting point. This critical piece of knowledge will serve as the initial data for pre-populating the Collaborative Conservation Atlas. I suppose one could say that Ch’aska and I are collaborating together to build and design and populate the CCA.
Meanwhile, I have been busy developing a website prototype for the CCA. This website currently consists of a home page, a directory of collaborative conservation groups, and a collaborative group profile page that I call the project profile page. More pages are sure to come. The home page contains a slider and map that highlight five featured collaborative conservation groups. Each featured group can be selected by clicking on either the slider image or the map balloon that contains a few initial basic statistics about each featured group. The programming of the website makes use of “responsive design” that helps make the appearance of the website nice for various sized devices (e.g., smartphone, full size flat screen monitors, and tablets). The profile page for each collaborative conservation group will be enabled with metadata about each group along with the capabilities that exist on the citizen science support platform “CitSci.org.” In this way, those collaborative conservation groups wishing to conduct either community based monitoring activities or citizen science projects can use this online data management system to facilitate data collection, storage, sharing, visualization, and analysis.
Despite these initial successes, may challenges exist such as deciding how to fit the required metadata about each collaborative conservation group into the existing database schema used for basic citizen science project metadata? Additionally, still yet to be done tasks include developing edit capabilities to empower collaborative conservation group managers to edit the details of their group anytime, anywhere.
Thus, so far, many challenges still exist in developing the collaborative conservation atlas; and I still am seeking better way to identify whom to collaborate with beside Ch’aska in developing the atlas. But, I look forward to continued work on the fellowship.