Monday, July 16, 2007

Cyber Tracker - Rhinoceros or Natual Disasters?

South African conservation scientist Louis Liebenberg (and helped by former University of Cape Town computer scientist Justin Steventon) have developed a software for PDAs that assist Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert from being trackers to being cyber trackers. While most of the Bushmen cannot read or write, they are able to interpret the icons on their PDAs.

The PDA screen displays more than 40 animal species and plants. Anther set of icons cover activities such as drinking, feeding, running, fighting, mating and sleeping. Pressing an animal icon and than an activity icon records a sighting and or other finding. This digital recording which records time, date and exact location is than sent wirelessly to a computer server by satellite. That information is than processed on a base-station computer to create maps and charts of animal movements and feeding habits.

One tracker might record up to 300 observations in a day and has now been downloaded over 25,000 times in more than 50 countries. While not everyone may have the need to track the activities of a rhinoceros, the software can be used for other purposes than nature conservation. For example it can be applied to social surveys, organic farming or integrated pest management. In addition, the software allows a user to create unique icons to adapt it for tracking other kinds of things, such as monitoring disasters in local areas. All that is needed is a laptop or a PDA, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver is said to be optional.

For more information, CyberTracker hardware and CyberTracker

Source: ZD Net - Roland Piquepaille
(Photo Credit: CyberTracker).

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