The role of digital data entry in participatory environmental monitoring

Jeremy R. Brammer*, Nicolas D. Brunet, A.C. Burton, Alain Cuerrier, Finn Danielsen, Kanwaljeet Dewan, Thora Martina Herrmann, Micha V. Jackson, Rod Kennett, Guillaume Larocque, Monica Mulrennan, Arun Kumar Pratihast, Marie Saint-Arnaud, Colin Scott, Murray M. Humphries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many argue that monitoring conducted exclusively by scientists is insufficient to address ongoing environmental challenges. One solution entails the use of mobile digital devices in participatory monitoring (PM) programs. But how digital data entry affects programs with varying levels of stakeholder participation, from nonscientists collecting field data to nonscientists administering every step of a monitoring program, remains unclear. We reviewed the successes, in terms of management interventions and sustainability, of 107 monitoring programs described in the literature (hereafter programs) and compared these with case studies from our PM experiences in Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greenland, and Vietnam (hereafter cases). Our literature review showed that participatory programs were less likely to use digital devices, and 2 of our 3 more participatory cases were also slow to adopt digital data entry. Programs that were participatory and used digital devices were more likely to report management actions, which was consistent with cases in Ethiopia, Greenland, and Australia. Programs engaging volunteers were more frequently reported as ongoing, but those involving digital data entry were less often sustained when data collectors were volunteers. For the Vietnamese and Canadian cases, sustainability was undermined by a mismatch in stakeholder objectives. In the Ghanaian case, complex field protocols diminished monitoring sustainability. Innovative technologies attract interest, but the foundation of effective participatory adaptive monitoring depends more on collaboratively defined questions, objectives, conceptual models, and monitoring approaches. When this foundation is built through effective partnerships, digital data entry can enable the collection of more data of higher quality. Without this foundation, or when implemented ineffectively or unnecessarily, digital data entry can be an additional expense that distracts from core monitoring objectives and undermines project sustainability. The appropriate role of digital data entry in PM likely depends more on the context in which it is used and less on the technology itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1287
JournalConservation Biology
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Keywords

  • Ciencia ciudadana
  • Citizen science
  • Community-based monitoring
  • Conocimiento ecológico tradicional
  • Monitoreo basado en comunidades
  • Monitoreo y manejo participativo
  • Participación de público en la investigación científica
  • Participatory monitoring and management
  • Public participation in scientific research
  • Traditional ecological knowledge

Cite this

Brammer, J. R., Brunet, N. D., Burton, A. C., Cuerrier, A., Danielsen, F., Dewan, K., ... Humphries, M. M. (2016). The role of digital data entry in participatory environmental monitoring. Conservation Biology, 30(6), 1277-1287. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12727