A key aspect in the efficient use of control resources (chemical, people, transport) is that timely data needs to be available to operations managers. During a large control operation, there may be dozens of control teams and spray aircraft operating in a country. The ability to get information to and from these teams can be hampered by the delay in transmitting information verbally by radio, or the long distances involved in physically moving paper records from the field to the operations centre. There is also a delay in entering the data into a suitable database for analysis and decision making.
The project, in close collaboration with FAO Migrant Pests Group, and the EMPRES Central region has been developing a system of data transmission by HF radio that reduces these problems. For general information on the potential of this system see an FAO press release.
The system is based around a Psion hand held computer, into which information is directly entered in the field. This is then connected to a Codan HF radio equipped with data modem. The data is transmitted back to the operations centre, where it can be directly incorporated into a suitable database. The software used is that supplied with the Codan modem; the complication is that to run this software on the Psion requires the use of a suitable Dos emulator. Work is underway to automate the task such that it is a simple procedure from within the Psion data collection software. To see details of the current system, click here.
The RAMSES database, developed by NRI and FAO, is currently being installed in Mauritania and eventually it is expected that the database will be able to incorporate data transmitted electronically without the need for manual data entry.
At the moment, survey data is being used to develop the system, but it is expected that control and associated data (eg operator monitoring information) will also be transmitted electronically. This can be included in RAMSES or a similar database to give operations managers an up to date picture of the situation.