Hello! My name is Tracey and I am Gaia Resources’ latest recruit. I joined the Gaia team late last year as the office administrator and to also help in the provision of technical support.
Photo-reluctant Tracey joined the team in late 2014
I have a degree in environmental science and a broad employment background. Most recently I have been a sales consultant in telecommunications, which spurred an interest in the power of mobile phones as a tool. These days there really is an app for everything, and you don’t need to be a tech wizard to reap the benefits of a smart phone. Apparently you can also make phone calls on them!
In between the very important task of managing Gaia’s coffee and banana supplies, I have immersed myself in road-testing the many technologies Gaia has created to facilitate environmental data solutions. Here’s a quick summary of my induction into these technologies…
My first port of call was training myself in QGIS, an open-source, freely available GIS program. I had previously utilised GIS in my university projects and can comfortably say that QGIS is a powerful tool with a user-friendly interface. The training course was really tailored to what I wanted to know, as it’s been written with a focus on the environment. Throughout 2015 Gaia will be running regular two-day training courses, which you can read about here.
Gaia Resources have also developed a number of mobile phone apps to meet the needs of a range of clients and to open up the floodgates for data capture by citizen scientists. Here, I’ve been working with Alex and Aaron to understand the range of citizen science projects and then to help test the apps.
The first app I road-tested was Dolphin Watch. This app features a simple user-interface behind which is a powerful and efficient method for recording dolphin sightings. For example, the app uses your phone’s on-board GPS automatically, making data entry much simpler and reducing the number of buttons you have to press to log a sighting – important on mobile phones!
When I first started testing, I lodged some test records here around the Gaia Resources office. Now, I know that dolphins are intelligent creatures, but I don’t think the world is ready for their terrestrial occupation. This is an example of the importance of data verification and one of the potential limitations of Citizen Science when it is not implemented correctly – having people responsible for overseeing data input is vital. I was able to log into the system, and remove those test records.
River Guardians Dolphin Watch Training
On the 25th of February I attended an official Dolphin Watch induction session at Scitech to become an accredited River Guardian. These sessions are available to the public and allow you to gain the accreditation you need to be able to log Dolphin Watch surveys into the Trust’s database, where they will be used in a range of scientific research. So, as citizen scientists, you get to be part of a large and ongoing monitoring and conservation effort.
What was really lovely to see was the diversity of participants on the night, with primary-school aged children and their parents mingling with enthusiastic retirees. The beauty of organized and well-implemented Citizen Science programs such as Dolphin Watch is that they are not limited to a specific demographic and provide a way for people of all walks of life (like the kids below, who raised money via a lemonade stand for the project!) to contribute significantly to something large.
Photo courtesy Swan River Trust
I am excited to be part of the Gaia team and am constantly absorbing new information. Having completed my personal journey through each of Gaia’s products I am now ready to help clients and the public. If you have any queries regarding our mobile phone apps, QGIS or GRID, please feel free to give me a call in the office on 92277309 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to assist you, and no question is ‘silly’, so please don’t feel embarrassed about any issue you may have.
I look forward to hearing from you.