Empowering Indigenous rangers with a biosecurity monitoring app

Challenge

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers monitor changes and collect environmental information to help prove that Australia is free of pests and diseases. The number of ranger groups undertaking biosecurity activities has increased by more than 50 per cent in the past two years. Around 70 ranger groups now protect Australian biosecurity across the 10,000km northern coastline.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources wanted a mobile app for Indigenous rangers to efficiently collect and submit plant, animal and aquatic data.

Timely and accurate reporting is challenging due to geographic isolation, limited or no mobile network connectivity, and English a second, third or even fourth language in most remote communities.

The existing systems involved information being sent in various formats including phone, fax, email and mail, which led to inconsistency in data collected by different groups and transcription errors.

Approach

To build engagement from business owners and Indigenous rangers, GoSource workshopped to clarify requirements and better understand their needs. They mapped the experiences and expectations of Indigenous rangers with the needs of government then took high-fidelity mock-ups to Cairns to test the understanding. This led to continued agile delivery with remote customers.

Throughout the build process, the team iteratively tested concepts, from paper sketches to HTML prototypes. Early in the project, they released test versions of the app so stakeholders could begin testing in real life locations. The team carefully managed configuration so they could frequently release new versions.

Solution

GoSource delivered an app that serves remote communities through a combination of cloud APIs, mobile applications and web applications. It enables ranger groups to make biosecurity reports regardless of mobile coverage, using a single mobile device. To allow for the limitations of communal phones that are offline for days at a time, the app needs to conserve power and bandwidth use.

The days of paperwork and manual transcribing are gone. Human error is reduced and what used to take hours, now takes minutes. Rangers can upload photos, record accurate GPS coordinates and track files.

The app has made workflow simpler for Indigenous rangers and the department, delivering higher quality data and improving response times in managing pests and diseases.

Client
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)
Timeframe
Eight months
Scope
User research, design and delivery of an offline-first mobile app
Summary
GoSource provided digital systems to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders rangers undertaking biosecurity reporting in northern Australia.
In brief

Benefits

  • Efficiency gains Departmental staff no longer need to manually enter data from ranger groups, meaning they can focus on diagnostics and capability building.
  • Improved communication With each submission reviewed and actioned more rapidly by the department, rangers can see the impact of their work, which has greatly improved relationships between the department and Indigenous communities.
  • Award winning In 2018, the Indigenous Ranger app received DAWR Secretary’s Award for Innovation; regional and national Australian Information Industry Association awards; and was Australia’s entry in the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards.
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"GoSource empowered our Indigenous rangers to record what they see, when they see it – and this better, faster data means better biosecurity for all Australians."
Assistant Secretary,
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources