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Bringing together traditional owners’ knowledge and modern tech

Date: 03-Dec-19
Author: Josh Cole

The Australian Living Atlas is helping to bring modern technology and First Nations' knowledge together.

The Australian Living Atlas is helping to bring modern technology and First Nations' knowledge together.

Software developers have teamed up with Indigenous rangers to make an award-winning app that makes it easier for those rangers to track threatened species using their native languages and skills. 

The CSIRO has awarded the Australian Living Atlas (ALA) with the Medal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement for The Tracks App as part of its annual award ceremony. 

The app was developed by ALA along with rangers from the Central Land Council (CLC), the organisation which represents the Indigenous peoples of Central Australia, with the goal of allowing traditional tracking skills and native languages to help inform the process of recording data on endangered native animals. 

Hamish Holewa, Deputy Director at the ALA, has said that it’s already had an impact as part of last year’s Bilby Blitz. 

"The Tracks App reduces technical barriers to Indigenous communities participating in valuable scientific work using their first language and traditional tracking practices and to pass on these skills and knowledge to future generations." 

Another benefit, recognised by the CLC’s Peter Donohoe, is that the app ensures that traditional owners can be directly involved in the formulation of management strategies for some of Australia’s most sensitive desert ecosystems. 

He also acknowledged the app’s value as a tool for inclusion and communication, as the CLC alone has rangers from 15 different language groups, meaning the ability for them to use their own languages to record vital data makes it easier to process and share information.  

There are many more languages being spoken among rangers from other organisations, so it’s hoped that The Tracks App will grow accordingly. 


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Josh                                              Cole
Author: Josh Cole

Josh comes to Planet Ark after a stint in legal communication and from a background in print journalism. He studied Communications and Media as a mature age student in Wollongong where he re-discovered his love for the natural environment.

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