Mondulkiri wildlife officers receive SMART training

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Mondulkiri provincial department of environment holds a workshop on SMART Data Management and SMART Connect on June 21. WCS

Mondulkiri provincial authorities are now able to respond even more swiftly to reports of environmental crimes thanks to a new system called Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), according to deputy provincial governor and spokesman Cheak Mengheang.

To acquaint law enforcement officers with knowledge of its main features – SMART Data and SMART Connect – a training workshop on the use of the software was held on June 21.

Mengheang said on June 22 that SMART Data and SMART Connect are easy to use and enable officials to collect and compare data more efficiently. Information on forest encroachment or animal snares, for example, could be entered quickly into a master system. This means that identifying patterns of offending and coordinating efforts to end it is now simpler.

“These tools are an effective way of pinpointing areas which require more enforcement. For example, if we discover many snares near one particular water source at a certain time of year, it may be worth conducting a sweep to catch the poachers, rather than simply destroying the traps,” he said.

Keo Sopheak, director of the provincial Department of Environment, said on June 22 that the software was important for data management, tracking staff activities, monthly and annual performance reviews and maintaining natural resource crime records.

Sopheak said that currently, environmental officers’ expertise with the software is limited, and that further training need to get the maximum benefits from it.

The June 21 workshop on the use of the system was organised by Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia (WCS Cambodia), in collaboration with the environment department, and supported by CAMPAS project.

WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha explained that SMART Data is a tool that supports monitoring, reporting, measuring, evaluating and improving patrol efficiency. SMART Connect allows users to store and manage data on a Web-based basis.

“Because we have a small number of staff, we need to use technology to improve our efficiency. At present, our 90 officials cover an area of more than 1 million hectares. Even though we don’t have many officials, we have community patrol groups who help monitor protected areas,” he added.

He said users can upload data to a central database, and include elements such as patrol data, analysis of problems, reports and various other parameters. In addition, teams as well as individual users can allocate tasks onto a single database. These tasks are then updated via servers, ensuring that each user is working with the latest version of data.

“SMART is flexible and provides a systematic approach to strengthening resource management through the study of management outcomes. Flexible management via this method is related to planning and implementation of action plans, and then measuring their impact,” he added.

He said the tool was also used to assist managers in assessing the scope of patrol operations, planning patrols, locating specific survey information related to threats, and storing and managing data in an orderly manner.