Mobiles, Data, Salt and Birds

Over the last four days I’ve been up in Karratha and Dampier working and volunteering with Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore and Salt operations.  How can you not enjoy being in a place which looks like this?


On Thursday and Friday I spent the time with the Iron Ore group, mostly looking at data, data standards and some analysis projects.  We have been working with Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore group for some time now – since 2005 – and have been supporting them in this environmental data area throughout that time.  This was a good opportunity to catch up and just tweak a few different areas we’re working in, and to get some good plans in place for the rest of the year, and for the new year – which is not that far away now!

As part of this trip, I was also looking at how they currently use the field data capture system we’ve set up for them, which is based on the Biological Data Recording System and is supplemented with custom mobile applications for their use.  I talked to a range of different people up there about what they could use this for, ranging from survey work to environmental incident reporting, and we have some good plans for the next few months about some of those.

On the weekend I got to be a little indulgent, and as a volunteer with Birdlife Western Australia I helped with the Birdwatch 2012 event.  I’ve been involved in five of these Birdwatch events now (Karratha Station, Pannawonnica, Hamersley Station, Perth and this years one), and they are always a great event.  Leading a team of interested people around the bush near Miaree Pool on Sunday was a real highlight – nothing makes me feel better about our work with people than actually getting out into the bush and doing that work myself!

Throughout the trip, I used our Android application on my mobile phone to record all the birds I saw along the way.  This is always a great test of the software, and on this trip I recorded 95 species, and 291 records and 1,504 individual birds in four days (as overlaid on Google Maps below – the points cluster when you display them to save on processing).


Any trip that involves field time is a really great trip for me.  It really keeps me in touch with our clients, and in touch with the people that do the work we support with technology.  I can’t wait for next year’s one, and hopefully I get to go again!


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