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New mobile app making Kowanyama Indigenous Rangers even more effective

[supplied by NIAA]

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Taking a closer look at the metrics generated through the Ranger Daily Reporter app. (Photo courtesy of Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council)

To celebrate World Ranger Day (31 July), Indigenous.gov.au reports on a story from Kowanyama, North Queensland.

An Indigenous ranger team typically covers a large area and fulfils many different responsibilities each day. How effective they were is a question they ask themselves at the end of that day.

Since May this year, the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council Indigenous Ranger team has been better able to answer that question thanks to a newly developed mobile app called the Ranger Daily Reporter app.

John Brisbin is the Scientific Support Officer for the Council.

‘Staff at Council, working with the Ranger team, came up with the structure and talked it over. The main goal was to make our work more visible, using simple reporting tools. As a group, we can see where we spend our time, what we achieve, and how we are progressing on our work plan,’ John said.

The rangers drove the original concept and wanted to see the effect of their work immediately rather than waiting on reports once or twice a year.

‘They wanted a better way to manage their own program. They like to use handheld devices, and apps are familiar to everyone these days, so it was a natural development. Once a prototype was in place, the Rangers tested it and gave feedback before the final release.’

During a meeting with the National Indigenous Australians Agency on 27 May, the Council’s Acting CEO Kevin Bell highlighted the Mobile App as an important step forward in technology and culture.

It ‘allows Council to collect valuable information about carbon farming, plant and animal control, surveying, as well as cultural activities on Country,’ he said.

‘The reporting features allow rangers to set their own management goals and builds on the program’s reputation with this information made available to funding bodies.’

The new app smooths out the normally clumsy transfer of information between the ranger in the field and the office staff collecting and managing the data.

‘Rich reporting is the secret source for the team, the program managers, and the funders,’ John said.

‘Reporting is an act of intelligent observation and interpretation. This tool helps us know our jobs better, and to tell better stories to those who need to know.’

Finally, the app keeps everybody on their toes.

‘We insisted that the reports be per ranger​ and that it is per day​. This gives a lot of visibility to both the individual and to the team in a way that "group reporting" often clouds,’ John said.

‘That can be uncomfortable sometimes but we're not in a competition with each other in the team: everyone has strengths and challenges. The app actually helps us to help one another more effectively, and through that cooperation, our whole team improves.’

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