Looking back at 2017

So, as 2017 comes to a close, it’s that time of year where I write some sort of wrap up of what’s again been a challenging and rewarding year… as we head into our 15th year of operations!  If I look back at the last 12 months, the overwhelming feeling I have is that it was as bright as I thought it would be when I wrote the wrap up for 2016 but on top of that we’ve also been doing a lot of preparation for the new year – and next year looks even brighter.

Our biggest change would have to be the Perth office move.  Not that long ago we bundled up the office and moved into the FLUX co-working space in St George’s Terrace, in Perth’s Central Business District.  After we moved the Brisbane team into the @Workspaces co-working space earlier this year, I was quite enamoured by the idea – and then when we started talking as a team about where to move, and the required features and layout, FLUX totally fit the bill.  To top it off, it also reduces our operating costs by a fair whack by moving into the co-working space, and we get much better facilities than we had in our old building in Leederville!

Our crazy moving weekend – powered by donuts

FLUX wasn’t our only change – we had some staff changes as well.  Tamara, Rob and James (H) left us this year, but we also had James (P) and Sean arrive – both of whom escaped Welcome blogs, so I wrote one for them!  And happily, we welcomed Steph back to the team – although she’s now based in Hobart rather than with us in Perth.  Our little family here at Gaia continues to change and evolve, and we have some new staff to welcome in the near future, too.

Draft ClimateWatch app dashboardMicroBlitz draft app dashboard

Project wise, this has been a really big year for Citizen Science projects; with the impending release of three major new citizen science apps, including the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, the phoenix-like resurgence of MicroBlitz, and a return to our very first citizen science project, ClimateWatch, saw a lot of our work this year in the citizen science area.

This year we also continued our behind-the-scenes support for the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA).  Alex will be presenting at the ACSA conference in Adelaide in early February to discuss some of our work and findings – especially in the area of engagement, which we think is one of the most important considerations (which says a lot coming from a technology company!).

Of course, there’s more citizen science coming from us next year, too – there’s another new version of Dolphin Watch coming in the new year (after the recent release of version 3) that will bring some pretty exciting changes!

Meanwhile, in our Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects, we’ve released a number of upgrades to our GRID product, with many different blogs coming from the team about these changes.  In amongst all that, the NRM community is currently deep in responding to the National Landcare Program new rounds of grants – we’ve been helping a number of NRMs in Western Australia with their responses, ranging from assisting in development of the bids through to undertaking spatial analysis to support their bids – and some of this will be out when we come back from leave in the new year.  2018 will certainly be an interesting year for the NRM community, and we look forward to helping support them through all the turbulence and out into clear skies.

Our Gaia Bucks got another workout this year at the State NRM conference

Collections are also a big part of our work – and the Archives area has been particularly rewarding in 2016.  We began on the Archives journey thanks to the link between the Western Australian Museum and the State Records Office of Western Australia, and we quickly realised that Archives have a lot to offer the wider Collections community.  So, our work (mainly in AtoM and Archivematica) with a variety of Archives in Australia has continued, including a lot of participation at this year’s Australian Society of Archivists conference.  Other projects, such as Discovering Queensland and Aggregating Tasmania have kept us doing some really cutting edge work in this Collections areas.  Meanwhile, our initial work with CSIRO on the Collections Pilot has seen us working further with them throughout 2017 migrating the Australian National Insect Collection and the Australian National Herbarium to CollectiveAccess (and there’s a few more projects that we’ll announce when we’re back from the break).

We group a lot of other projects together into “Environmental Technology”, and there’s been a few great projects over the year – more work supporting the important research into saving coral species via the Corals of the World project, supporting the fight against dieback with our work on the Dieback Information Delivery and Management System, searching for the elusive Malleefowl in the Great Victoria Desert, riding around in seriously cool 6 wheeled vehicles learning about mosquito control, and even helping people care for their local wildlife via the Wildcare Helpline app.  In amongst all these – and a range of other projects – I really feel we’re achieving one of our core goals of supporting environmental research and conservation.

This blog always inspires a bit of reflection in me for the year that was, and the way in which we went about it, so it’s always challenging – as well as a little bit cathartic.  This year I did a lot of work “on” the business, and during that I learned a lot about myself – from working with several advisors to the business from various places – but also from our own team.  Andrew’s 10 year blog really does reflect just how far we’ve come as a team and how we’ve weathered many different challenges – but always as a team.  I think as a result of all this, our little family is really starting to come together and hum along.

So, in closing, I’d like to thank you for your continued support over the year and look forward to seeing you all in 2018.  We’ll be breaking on Friday 22nd December, 2017 (to go and do our “usual” Star Wars themed afternoon) and we’ll be back on deck on Tuesday the 2nd January, 2018.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Gaia Resources!

Piers

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