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Author:
Kris Majury

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About Our Customers    |   April 22, 2014   |   By Kris Majury

FME Grant Program Profile: The SMART Partnership Helps Defend Endangered Species

featimageDo you know about Safe’s FME Grant Program?

Every year, we provide well over 4,000 free FME licenses to educational institutions of all levels, researchers, and non-profit organizations of every stripe. The elephantine task of herding all of those cats falls to Moira Seabloom, FME Software Grant Program Coordinator here at Safe. And speaking of cats – big ones! – one of our grant recipients is using geospatial technology to help out real cats and all sorts of other endangered species around the globe.

The SMART Partnership is an innovative partnership involving a number of the world’s leading conservation agencies, including CITES-MIKE, Frankfurt Zoological Society, North Carolina Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the Zoological Society of London. The SMART approach is a suite of best practices focusing on securing new and improved tools for measuring, evaluating and improving the effectiveness of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation activities.

elephantsMuch of their effort involves developing capacity on the ground in some of the most challenging and sometimes resource-constrained environments on the planet.

Part of addressing this challenge involved developing the SMART software, a robust, flexible, globally scalable suite of tools to empower rangers, patrol leaders and law enforcement managers to leverage geospatial data using as simple as possible technology.  As they work through deploying SMART software around the world, the work of migrating diverse historic data sets has been simplified greatly with FME through our grant program.

Jonathan Palmer, the Director for Global ICT for the Wildlife Conservation Society has taken the technical lead on the project for the partnership in collaboration with Refractions, the developers of SMART Software.  With 25 years of technology experience behind him, Jonathan has been through the trenches a few times with data conversions.

“Helping around twenty government partners do complex data conversions is a real challenge,” says Jonathan. “Often we are not in a position to get direct access to the data, and have to remotely guide staff through mapping and converting data. Add to this the fact that the source data isn’t always as clean as you would like, and you get an understanding of the challenges we face.  With support from FME we have a few conversions under our belt and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel – without FME we may have been facing an impossible mission!”

So as you can see, the FME Grant Program isn’t just for schools – and the SMART Partnership is one of many grant recipients whose efforts we are happy to support. “I get to work with some smart people doing some pretty cutting edge research,” says Moira, “and they all get very excited when they realize that FME solves their data problems. Through the Grant Program, we get involved with some great people and good organizations that are really making a difference. It feels good to be a part of that.”

If your education program, research, or non-profit activities could benefit from including FME, check out the program details on our website and apply right now.

And who knows? Perhaps some day, FME may play a tiny role in helping to preserve this fearsome, territorial beast of Africa – currently listed as “vulnerable”. Press play and hear him roar!