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Streamlining data collection – Surrey Wildlife Trust & Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre

Digital transformation, driven by apps

The Challenge

Surrey Wildlife Trust - My Wildlife Diary

Surrey Wildlife Trust is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts working across the UK working to protect and nurture wildlife at a landscape level. They manage over 7000 hectares of land for wildlife and people in Surrey. They also work with other organisations and landowners to protect and connect wildlife sites across the county and inspire local communities and young people to care for wildlife where they live.

Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre (SBIC) collects, manages and disseminates information on the flora, fauna and habitats of Surrey.

Collecting data forms a key ingredient for both organisations in understanding and managing both land and wildlife.  Historically this has been an area which has been fragmented in terms of approach and effectiveness.  For data collection in the field the Trust has typically relied upon paper based methods.  Whilst enabling a good degree of flexibility it’s never been a particularly efficient method of data collection, since data needs to be transcribed further down the line, and there are often long delays involved with this.  For SBIC, who collect data from many sources, including the public, there has never been a single system solution for electronic data and a variety of different proprietary systems have been used.  This has led to various problems with data access and interoperability.

Another key role of the Trust is to engage the public with their work and with wildlife.  The typical channels for doing this (print and electronic media) are largely passive, one way experiences.  The Trust wanted more engaging ways to involve people in projects.  They also wanted to encourage more people to actively engage with nature in general and where possible, to submit data to SBIC.

Coreo has provided SWT and Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre with exactly the right toolset to enable us to undertake a business-critical move from a paper-based to digital data recording organisation. No other systems we've used have a comparable range, flexibility or ease-of-use.

Mike Hordley Project Manager Mike Hordley - SBIC/SWT

The Solution

After trialling the Coreo system and building several apps, Surrey Wildlife Trust and SBIC decided to purchase an Enterprise licence.  This enables them to build unlimited apps and have unlimited users.  This means that they can use Coreo both for internal business use and also for mass participation, citizen science projects with the public.

Coreo for streamlining business processes

Ecology services are using Coreo to transform the way they handle surveying in the field.  They are in the process of moving their regular surveys (which include a range of bat surveys) into Coreo applications.

Coreo for public engagement

SWT and SBIC have been running a number of different app-based projects with the public since acquiring Coreo.  These include seasonal surveys to engage people with nature ‘as it happens’ and longer running surveys.  Both are being used to good effect to build a more engaging relationship with the public whilst also generating more wildlife data, which will be used in many different ways by SWT and other organisations to benefit conservation.

The Results

“Despite this being the first year, the results have been very positive.  We’ve had a lot of interest within the both organisations about using Coreo apps to drive efficiency, and the Ecological Consultancy wing of the Trust was the first to realise the considerable benefits associated with moving to a digital method of data capture.  Some of their apps are quite complex and Coreo has the flexibility to handle almost all of the challenges we’ve thrown at it.  Coreo also provides us with a comprehensive and very user-friendly system to work with to manage the data.

SBIC and the Trust have also been very proactive with running citizen science initiatives.  We haven’t done much promotion around these yet, as we wanted to find our feet with it this year. But again, the results have been very promising indeed. People have really enjoyed using the apps and they give us the option to update surveys on-the-fly.  This means we can tailor the surveys we run based on requirements and what’s relevant (wildlife-wise) at the time.  Our audience doesn’t need to do anything, since the apps update automatically.  That in itself is a huge benefit over any other system we’ve had access to before.

Next year we will be moving more surveys onto the Coreo platform to take advantage of its in-the-field capabilities and we’ll also be training staff in how to build apps.  It’s so straightforward that we want everyone to have the ability to create and edit apps.  Previous systems all had a single point of failure and Coreo has also given us an unexpected and very welcome solution to that problem too.”

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