International Coral Reef Symposium 2012 – Cairns, Australia – Thoughts from Day 5
The “cloud” and “cloud computing” are becoming increasingly prevalent in consumer applications. Our email is stored in the cloud, much of our personal data is stored in the cloud, and our mobile devices commonly access information stored in the cloud. The same technology that makes these applications possible is now being harnessed for environmental management.
Preserving natural ecosystems typically incorporates a complex balance of scientific, political, societal, and economic facts, needs and viewpoints. However, the data needed to perform the associated decision making process is often stored in physically separate locations. As a result, despite growing global connectivity, accessing and integrating this data can be a challenge, particularly in remote locations.
The cloud, or more specifically the vast network of remote servers and its associated software, is the foundation allowing access to diverse sets of data. Rather than copy and transmit copies of large volumes of data and/or software to different users, cloud computing allows users to remotely access distributed storage locations. In many cases this approach is not only more efficient, but also more democratic, allowing greater distribution of limited computing resources to a larger number of users.
An interesting example of cloud technology is Qehnelo, a web-based software product created by the New Caledonian company Bluecham. Qehnelo, whose name derives from a native phrase for “open door”, integrates remote data access with high-level decision support models. Dr. Julie Scopelitis is working on using this innovative software for coral reef monitoring and management. Through this software, Julie is able to better leverage her own expertise and ultimately put the power of advanced technology into the hands of managers, conservationists and scientists.
It is exciting to see such innovative new technology being used for coral reef management. We are sure to see this trend continue as computing resources become more affordable and more accessible.