You may not have seen it in the news but lately poachers have been killing animals at alarming rates in Africa. Rangers aren’t only frequently outgunned (with reports of poachers not only using military weapons but also relying on aircraft to find animals) but usually outmaneuvered since they have huge areas to cover while the poachers hold the initiative of when and where they’ll operate.
One conservancy in Kenya has decided to embrace technology to address some of these problems through the purchase and use of an aerial drone. Their program to fly a drone will allow them to cover significant amounts of territory, providing both real time visual data and, through a program of implanting RFID transmitters in some of the animals in the park, through tracking key members of the animal population. They did have a problem, however. How does a non-profit afford a drone aircraft with all the associated training, maintenance, etc?
They decided to launch a crowdfunding appeal on indiegogo. They requested $35,000 and surpassed that with ease, thanks in part to pretty significant press coverage.
Allow me to take this opportunity to recycle a post of mine from almost one year ago where I spoke in a bit more detail about the potential of crowdfunding the analysis process. It’s probably not efficient for a long term strategy but such a method could be used for a very specific program like this when more traditional funding isn’t available or would be too slow. Of course, you’d have the regular problems with crowdfunding such as over-promising and under-delivering in various forms but they can be mitigated.
But beyond that, I’ve been talking to people about intelligence training. Across the field training is pretty spotty with tons of beginner level training out there (of varying qualities) and much less advanced training, especially good advanced training. There just doesn’t seem to be a critical mass of people who need such advanced training in a place that would justify the development and presentation of that sort of thing .
Would be possible to crowdfund intelligence training as well? hmmm…more to think about.