Soft Enforcement and Sousveillence for Conservation

I am currently attending the International Marine Conservation Congress (so please pardon my long absence) and wanted to quickly share some new ideas on how technology could contributions to conservation.

Erwin Brunio from Japan's Graduate School of Marine Science and Technology (itself an interesting concept) presented on how enforcement in Philippino marine protected areas is being assisted by:

...the creation of anonymous community watchers scattered among islands armed with mobile phones to report violations. The innovation is the presence of an intermediate structure between watcher and the enforcement agency, preventing false reports and ensures that the watchers identity remains anonymous because he/she never interacts directly with law enforcers.

This led me into a discussion with a friend who brought up the issue of sousveillence as a technique to watch the watchers themselves.

In addition to providing "watchful vigilance from underneath", sousveillence could be used to capture video and imagery to which we don't often have access. Recall Sam LaBudde's use of sousveillence when he went undercover onboard Mexican tuna vessels to document dolphin bycatch (which led to national outrage, a U.S. boycott of tuna, and the dolphin-safe logo -- you can read about LaBudde's entire operation back in 1989 in Kenneth Brower's 3-part series at The Atlantic).

We desperately need more imagery of the environmental destruction that takes place every day and I believe we should be putting technology into the hands of people positioned to capture it.

Take, for instance, this footage from dynamite fishing (uncomfortably placed on a humor website). Similarly, here is some civilian footage of grenade fishing in Afghanistan:

In the same way technology has enabled citizens to contribute more to politics (e.g. the Obama campaign) and to journalism (e.g. blogging), so, too, could micro-technology, such as video cameras and cell phones, lead to greater vigilance and richer imagery to enhance conservation efforts.

More like this

Seeing is believing !

By nubian new yorker (not verified) on 23 May 2009 #permalink

Just wait until the civil liberties groups mangle this one.

By Nils Ross (not verified) on 23 May 2009 #permalink

"I am currently attending the International Marine Conservation Congress (so please pardon my long absence)..."

You're pardoned!

Interesting that rifle grenades are plentiful enough that they can be used for not combat applications ehh?

By BlindRobin (not verified) on 27 May 2009 #permalink

I'd welcome pointers to any more discussion, particularly as the technology is likely improving fast.

All you need on private property is a warning that audio and video recording are taking place.

I dunno about putting the cameras on whales or seals though.
It'd be compelling if it worked out.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 10 Jul 2009 #permalink