Meet our February pest-free hero, another winner of the Mayoral Conservation Awards – eCoTrack. The recipient of the Innovation Award, the eCoTrack software was co-developed by Agile Cloud and Pest Free Kaipatiki.
What is eCoTrack?
eCoTrack is a pest tracking and restoration app – available on smartphone and desktop – enabling community conservation groups to report, track and monitor their work.
The integrated platform is driven from a map-based menu - just open the map and you can see what’s done or needs to be done. The app uses a GPS map to identify locations of weeds, rat traps and pest control plus providing descriptions and images to help users spot them.
Users can check out the status of the weeds – green (visited), amber (allocated to a team or contractor), grey (reported but not yet visited) along with the weed species. Users can record a checkpoint where a trap or bait station has been placed on the spot and can record how well a checkpoint is doing to control the rats, possums or other pests. This helps to keep a record of planned work and what has been achieved which is helpful for funding providers.
Who can use eCoTrack?
eCoTrack is available for individual landowners, local boards, council departments, community weeding warriors or other community organisations such as Forest & Bird and Pest Free Kaipatiki to use.
The journey so far
Since October 2018 over 150 participants have reported instances of weeds, with over 4000 weed plants being reported and monitored. Of these, over 500 moth plants are being tracked and more than 1000 ginger plants have been eradicated across Auckland.
“We’re excited by the results so far,” says Steven MacLeod of eCoTrack,
“We developed the software in consultation with conservation communities, to balance accurate data collection and users. Now we are seeing communities embrace it and the positive impact it has on our environment.”
These communities include Pest Free Kapataki who rolled out the app to report the location of untreated weeds and allocate a hit squad to treat them; they are now starting to use it for predator control in Kauri dieback halos and for recording volunteer activity for reporting to Council. South Titirangi Neighbourhood Network used the results from eCoTrack to gain substantial funding for its weed management programme.
Meanwhile, The Wood Bay Ginger Ninja's are working towards eradicating Ginger from Wood Bay having killed over 500 Ginger plants already; and Pest Free Piha has completed a Piha wide audit of Climbing Doc and following up with an eradication programme.
Looking to the future
Moving forward, the eCoTrack group is focusing on the development of more communities to take control of weed issues in their local environments. The group is working with AUT to gamify the app and its data, and develop it to help locate, monitor and minimise the spread of Kauri Dieback in the community.
Find out more about eCoTrack here.
You can also get involved with Pest Free Auckland 2050 a community-led conservation programme facilitated by Auckland Council or find a conservation group near you at Nature Space.