Geography 2050: Geospatial Data Collection for Wildlife Trafficking

09 December 2016 by Patrick Wilson

This past November Spatial Networks attended the American Geographical Society’s annual Symposium, Geography 2050. This two day assembly focused on collaboratively and constructively mapping the future geography of conservation and sustainability by bringing together industry professionals and academic scholars from all over.

Keynote speakers addressed a wide-range of policies and sustainability research of oceans, forests, the arctic, urban ecosystems, energy, conservation, and development. As an industry professional within a company that prides itself on solving the most difficult problems anywhere in world with geospatial technology, I couldn’t help but notice the common motif of utilizing observable, ground-truthed, field collected geospatial data for analysis.

While many of the visual presentations displayed remotely sensed data and the tracking of earth observations from satellite imagery and aerial photography providers, the real value added data comes from in situ on the ground information. This real value aids analysts and policy makers in answering the proverbial “So what?” factor that presents itself in most any analytical processes.

Field collected data is capable of verifying remotely sensed observations and most importantly gives a face to actors playing roles in such cases as wildlife trafficking and deforestation, for example. Dr. Meredith Gore, a Jefferson Science Fellow at the US Department of State, presented her research on exploring the spatial and temporal relationship of crimes relating to Wildlife Trafficking.


Dr. Gore noted that “Crime happens in places where motivated offenders, a lack of guardianship, and suitable targets coexist”. This demonstrates the need to continue to improve policy and efforts that enable ground-truthed, field collected data in areas prone to these crimes of opportunity in order to map out and predict the socio-economic fabric that can lead to the degradation conservation efforts.

Dr. Gore’s research demonstrates how geography is a common reference for understanding complex situations and how we can work to change these situations for the better. Geography is the driving force behind conservation efforts that help preserve wildlife and provide insight into environmental crime.

Patrick Wilson

About the author

Patrick is a GIS analyst that works with Fulcrum everyday to deploy mobile mapping projects for our users.