Table of Contents
- Introduction: the SMART Approach for Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM)
The SMART Approach for law enforcement monitoring involves a five-step process starting with the collection of field data by ranger patrols, through to decision-making and strategic planning (Fig. 1).
Ranger patrols - Patrol teams collect and record data on where they go and what they see, such as human activities (e.g., signs of poaching, habitat encroachment, timber cutting), interventions (e.g., arrests, issuing of fines, confiscations of weapons and other restricted or banned equipment) and/or observations of wildlife and habitat features.
Data input - Patrol teams report their patrol activities through a debrief, and patrol data and routes are checked for quality and/or errors and are then stored in the SMART patrol database.
Mapping and reporting - Data are processed into highly visual tables, charts, and maps showing patrol effort, coverage and results, forming the basis for patrol analysis and evaluation.
Feedback and evaluation - Regular meetings with rangers are held to discuss patrol effort, effectiveness and results to ensure all stakeholders are kept informed and to demonstrate the value of ranger efforts.
Strategic planning - Managers, rangers, and other stakeholders plan adaptive patrol strategies based on analysis of previous results and set new patrol targets. These plans are communicated to the field staff and the cycle begins again.
Fig. 1. The SMART Approach for adaptive management of conservation areas
Data collected by field teams should have inherent value for the management of the conservation area. Valuable data will include observations of wildlife, human activities (both legal and illegal), the condition of natural features, such as feeding, breeding and roosting areas, and movements and activities of patrol teams. Data must be recorded accurately and honestly so that decisions made on the basis of the observations are the most informed decisions possible.
In order for managers to understand the distribution of threats and wildlife inside the conservation area, and where needed, direct field teams to take appropriate follow-up action, observations collected by patrol teams need to be geo-referenced. This means that each observation has a location and time attached to it that makes it possible to plot the observation onto digital maps of the conservation area. The quickest and most accurate way to do this is by using a dedicated Global Positioning System (GPS) device or a handheld device with GPS function. As such, the GPS is an important tool for information or intelligence-led patrolling.
Increasing threats to wildlife and habitats puts increasing pressure on managers to respond with the right decisions in a time efficient manner. Ranger teams need to be deployed to threat hotspots so they can arrest poachers, detect snares and traps and prevent wildlife crime from happening thus, saving the lives of animals. To ensure this happens, accurate and honest data should be recorded by rangers in the field, and this data needs to be turned into information in as close to real-time as possible. Patrol data may not be the only kind of data used to make decisions (see below).
Rangers and other field staff play a primary role in ensuring good quality data are collected in the field (Fig. 2). Only good quality data can be included in basic analyses (queries and summaries) and reports to management. Rangers may need to verify the locations and times of observations of human activities recorded by patrols, and confirm any unusual observations, such as records of endangered species, or details of enforcement interventions, infractions recorded and actions taken. Poor quality data should be addressed by conducting training or refresher training as needed, to upgrade skills and by using various approaches to motivate rangers to achieve a higher level of performance. Fig. 2. Decisions made using data will only be as good as the data that has been collected.
At the time of writing, nearly 1,000 sites in more than 65 countries are involved in SMART deployments. This includes 16 countries which have adopted SMART as a national monitoring system for their protected areas. More than 115 government agencies are currently involved in these deployments. Each agency has its own needs for information that can help with effective park protection and management, monitoring of endangered species and threats. For example, managers of national parks and marine protected areas require information on human impact in order to implement plans for managing recreation areas and other managed use zones. Wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves are set up to protect focal species, so managers require information on the distribution of those species and the spatial and temporal distribution of threats to wildlife and their habitats. Community conservancies are established to manage human use of lands, so managers need to assess impacts on natural resources that may be used by local people.
SMART is the world’s leading tool for conservation law enforcement monitoring (LEM) and protected area management[^1]. SMART LEM enables the collection, storage, communication, and evaluation of data on patrol efforts, patrol results, and threat levels, along with feedback from decision-makers to the frontline. Data collection is possible through the use of paper forms plus GPS, or via handheld digital devices. Available in multiple languages, data analysis is facilitated by an easy-to-use query wizard (see: SMART Essentials Training Handbook, page 59). Implementation of SMART LEM can enhance law enforcement effectiveness, improve morale of protection teams, and reduce threats to wildlife and other natural resources at numerous sites across the world[^1]. When effectively employed, to create and sustain information flow between rangers and conservation managers as part of the SMART Approach, SMART LEM can be used to substantially improve protection of wildlife and their habitats.
Ranger Enkchimeg in the Mongolian Gobi desert
The ability to use the SMART tools for collecting and managing field patrol or survey data falls under two competence categories; Development, Deployment and Management of SMART (DDM), and Field Data Collection (FDC). These competences would be needed by middle managers/technical experts and skilled workers. In this manual specific SMART competences[^2] relevant to the tasks described are indicated for each subheading. These include
DDM 2.6 Set up field devices for collecting SMART data
DDM 2.7 Integrating new technologies for data collection into the SMART system
DDM 2.8 Collate and manage data collected in the field
DDM 3.1 Direct installation and setup of hardware and software required for SMART
DDM 3.2 Direct set up and customization of SMART according to specified requirements
DDM 3.3 Direct development of standard data collection protocols compliant with SMART
FDC 1.1 Correctly identify and classify observations required for entry into the SMART system
FDC 1.2 Correctly enter data/information into devices configured for SMART data collection
FDC 1.6 Ensure that data collected in the field is correctly submitted
FDC 2.1 Plan and lead practical field data collection using SMART
FDC 2.3 Lead data collection in the field