Data Automation: A Journey with the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative
3 mins read
The Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (CRRI) is a global conservation effort run through WWF dedicated to conserving coral reefs that are less exposed to climate and supporting communities at the frontline of this effort. Coral reefs are vital ecosystems that support a remarkable diversity of marine life and provide essential benefits to our planet. However, they face unprecedented threats from human activities and climate change, including rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, pollution, and destructive fishing practices. These challenges have led to significant coral bleaching events and widespread reef degradation, raising urgent concerns for their survival and the well-being of the marine species and coastal communities that rely on them.
To address these critical issues and maximise the impact of conservation efforts, the CRRI (led by WWF) is currently partnering with PALO IT, to design a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) system to effectively showcase and track the overall progress of ongoing conservation efforts. The system is expected to enable comprehensive data collection, analysis, and reporting, providing crucial insights into the health and resilience of coral reefs.
A human-centred design process
Throughout the planning phase, our team has been engaging in extensive consultations with subject matter experts and coral reef monitoring communities to understand any bottlenecks and cumbersome processes comprehensively.
We conducted a problem tree analysis workshop, survey, and prioritisation exercise in close collaboration with CRRI partners to anticipate challenges central to the CRRI MEL problem statement. During the process, we identified critical challenges of establishing the MEL system and explored how we can meet these challenges. We are currently engaging in ongoing discovery to verify the recommendations proposed.
Our team embarked on an expedition with CRRI and WWF Indonesia to Alor Marine Protected Area in Indonesia to gain deeper insights. Our primary task during this expedition was to closely observe and engage with the CRRI and WWF team responsible for gathering, transferring, analysing, and reporting benthic and fish data.
The in-depth research and hands-on engagement with CRRI stakeholders allowed us to understand their pain points and challenges profoundly. By addressing these specific issues, we ensure that the MEL system we are designing can align perfectly with CRRI's mission and requirements. We are committed to delivering a tailored and effective solution that maximises the impact of CRRI's conservation efforts while incorporating local perspectives and minimising wasteful data practices.
Setting the wheels for a transformative M&E System
By immersing ourselves in the project and working closely with the CRRI and WWF teams, we identified opportunities to enhance efficiency and accuracy in all three aspects of data recording, transferring, and extraction. We have proposed the following enhancements and are currently in the process of designing and building this MEL system with CRRI.
Streamlining data recording with Optical Character Recognition and Kobo Toolbox
The team proposes implementing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to digitise data from photos of paper sheets directly. Existing benthic data templates with substrate-type abbreviations can be leveraged, and a new template will be created for fish data. Divers can verify and modify any inaccuracies detected by the OCR software via a spreadsheet format. Furthermore, survey templates developed using Kobo Toolbox could cover various data collection areas like seagrass, mangrove, water quality, and social surveys, ensuring comprehensive data capture for resilient fisheries and recovery efforts.
Enhancing data transfer efficiency
Data transfer will involve uploading verified spreadsheets to a cloud-based platform, which will be analysed by custom-built software using APIs to record the data in the CRRI data platform and other designated destinations. Survey data generated through Kobo Toolbox will be extracted via an API and securely stored in a separate cloud database.
Empowering data extraction and visualisation with Microsoft Power BI
We propose using Microsoft Power BI directly from the CRRI data platform database for data extraction. Custom databases will be created based on Kobo Toolbox templates, and Power BI templates will be developed to generate comprehensive reports and visual charts. This powerful tool will enable the generation of comprehensive reports and graphical charts encompassing all aspects of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) System and accommodate future changes in data tracking and recording needs.
The WWF Indonesia team can effectively record, transfer, and extract data for informed decision-making and comprehensive reporting within the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative by leveraging OCR technology, cloud-based platforms, APIs, Kobo Toolbox templates, and Power BI.
Stay tuned as this project unfolds! We are excited to share every step of this journey towards an MEL System that supports the CRRI’s invaluable conservation work. Together with the CRRI, we're set to make a meaningful impact in preserving and safeguarding our delicate coral reefs and fisheries.
Interested in learning more or seeking solutions for your own challenge? Reach out and see how we can help.