The first line of defence for park protection is still rangers, having boots on the ground. Regular patrols are the eyes and ears of a protected area and allow us to see what is going on. Patrols also make the arrests, and act as the primary deterrents to illegal activity.  It is critical these patrols are going to the most effective place at the most effective times, and behaving in the most effective way. Especially when many protected areas don’t have all the funding that they need, and as a result lack the optimal level of staffing for the areas they are charged to protect.

The SMART Partnership

SMART was established by a collection of conservation organisations, the SMART Partnership, to allow a standardised, community owned and funded solution to the problem of law enforcement monitoring. It is designed by a team of software developers and practicing conservation scientists to ensure it fits the need of protected area management. SMART is always free to download and use, and is open source and community owned.

SMART being used in the Leuser Ecosystem of Sumatra, Indonesia.

SMART has now been implemented in over 200 protected areas worldwide, and is the standard for helping protected area managers make the key decisions and plans that protect the areas they oversee. Several governments across the world have nationalised the adoption of SMART across their protected areas. 

What is SMART?

The SMART approach aims to improve effectiveness of law enforcement patrols through innovative software, capacity building, and site-based protection standards.

Observational data collected is by rangers whilst out on patrol, on anything that may provide useful for planning or management decisions, and follow up of criminal cases, from evidence of illegal activity such as snares or bullet casings, to arrest details and sightings of key wildlife species. These data are standardised, and are accompany by timestamps and GPS positions, which allow for regular analyses of ranger activities and the observations they make. These analyses are incorporated into regular reports which arm managers with key, up to date information to make decisions, and plan future patrols and activities. 

These SMART reports can show summarised maps of patrol and threat density, and key observations, allowing managers to better target patrol routes in the future, and tailor patrol teams responses and behaviour when encountering threats in the field. Transparency of patrol routes, observations and behaviours also helps to manage team performance and increases ranger motivation. Summaries of patrol activities are critical to evaluating and managing team performance.

The end result is motivated patrol staff, being better and more efficiently directed across the park in detecting and deterring illegal activity.

SMART Mobile

SMART is now supported by SMART Mobile, which is a user-friendly mobile app that allows for easy data and observation collection in the field, according to the unique customised data model for each protected area. The app automatically records the GPS position and times of observations, as well tracks and times for the patrols.

SMART Connect

SMART is always in a state of continued development, and improvements are underway all the time. One of these improvements is SMART Connect. Connect allow connection of SMART databases to the cloud, and permits real time alerts of key observations in the field such as carcasses or poachers made from SMART Mobile. Connect also allows remote cloud access and multiple conservation area analysis, so regional management can take advantage of the SMART approach across several protected areas