Oiled Wildlife Response 2.0

Hello all-

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a restful and safe holiday season.

We here in Davis are back in full swing, planning for how to better capture and care for oiled wildlife in California.  One of the more exciting projects we are just about ready to unveil is an electronic data collection system for intake and medical information collected at the facility.  As many of you know, last year we partnered with UPS (yes, Big Brown) to see if we could adapt their package tracking software (“TrackPad”) to better manage oiled wildlife data during oil spills.  They had previously worked with The Humane Society of the US to re-connect companion animals and their owners separated during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  When we approached them to see if this system could be further adapted to oil spills, they were extremely enthusiastic about its possibilities.

While the system itself is far more complex than I can relate in a blog, in short, it is based primarily on handheld PCs, with supporting laptop computers for docking and data transfer.  These HPCs will be assigned to each area of a facility, where they will collect info on the animals housed there (most likely through scanning barcodes on bands as well as pens/pools), after which time the data will be wirelessly transferred to a local server.  This server will then upload this info to an off-site server for security as well as report generation.  While seemingly complex, the database itself is extremely robust (having worked with UPS for many years), the data entry will be simple, and the ability to use this information “real-time” for spill decision-making will be extraordinary!

We will likely be starting to test the system in the coming months, with the hope to have it deployed in spills sometime in 2010.  Stay tuned for more info and updates on this exciting new step for oiled wildlife response!  And extra points for the OWCN person that comes up with a good name/acronym for the system – the current “tricorder” moniker might get us in trouble with Paramount…

– Mike

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