Partnerships and the collaborative approach Vulcan takes are essential to achieve Impact
May 13, 2019
By Ted S.
Impact requires collaboration and partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations, each bringing a unique set of skills and assets. The challenges Vulcan’s Impact Team  takes on are wicked problems. These are systemic problems requiring an interdisciplinary approach to effect change. They demand collaboration, partnership and perseverance -- not silver bullets – to create lasting change.
 
The range of skills of our staff and the multi-faceted approach we take to our mission areas from policy, science, technology and much more are hallmarks of the Vulcan way to moving the needle on the grand challenges we seek to tackle.  Likewise, the types of collaborations and partnerships we seek vary according to the problem being addressed, the outcomes sought, and the solutions being applied.
 
Wildlife Conservation is one pillar of wicked problems Vulcan undertakes to move in the right direction. Our conservation programs are as varied as the problems they seek to address. We have provided essential data on species abundance through our wildlife survey projects for both terrestrial and marine life. We have provided grants and technology advice to a range of organizations across Africa working to counter wildlife trafficking. We’ve supported policy measures like Washington state’s Initiative 1401, a first-of-its-kind ballot measure which prohibited the purchase, sale and distribution of products made from 10 endangered animals. Finally, we fill gaps where conservation has a need for technology solutions that are not filled by existing technology providers. In each of these strategic areas, partnership with other organizations is critical to achieve the desired outcomes.
 
A dedicated team of engineers developed Vulcan EarthRanger™ to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of protected area management is illustrative of the range of partnerships required to deliver meaningful impact from technology for wildlife conservation. EarthRanger is a software platform that collects information on activity in a protected area—the animals and assets being protected, the rangers protecting them and threats or potential poaching—into a single, integrated, real-time visualized operational platform. With EarthRanger, protected area managers can quickly analyze and proactively interdict poaching activity.
 
EarthRanger’s central role as the ‘operating system’ of protected area management is only possible because of the collaboration Vulcan has developed with technology hardware providers and data analytic platform developers. We have developed an extensive network of technology partnerships that spans a range from maker-type efforts to major technology corporations like Microsoft.
 
A critical aspect of EarthRanger and other products Vulcan develops for good is their ability to create scaled impact. In the case of EarthRanger the goal is to create systemic change in the way protected areas across Africa, and eventually across the globe, are managed. Vulcan has deployed EarthRanger at more than a dozen sites. Yet, Vulcan cannot on its own deploy EarthRanger everywhere it may be useful. We leverage our experience in the commercial software world to develop a network of ‘channel’ partners. The partners, such as Save the Elephants, Wildlife Protection Solutions, Kinetic 6, Forgotten Parks Foundation, and African Parks, can deliver the expertise, support and training necessary to ensure long-term use. By doing this, we’re helping to avoid the common trap of shelf-ware that’s so prevalent in conservation technology. One key lesson we learned as we have sought partners --whether technology partners, funding partners or channel partners to help us deploy our products -- is that they must also be mission driven. They can be different in almost every respect from Vulcan and from each other in terms of organizational structure, core competencies, resources, size and so on. But if the mission of wildlife conservation is not far and away the primary reason for engaging, they will ultimately be a poor partner.
 
Wicked problems don’t come with a recipe to follow. To make a dent in them requires agility. It requires innovation drawn from a breadth of disciplines.  It requires a commitment to mission and an understanding of what that commitment entails for a wicked problem. Vulcan’s unique organizational structure as funder, developer and multi-disciplinary staff of experts puts us in a position to work with partners and collaborators in innovative ways to move the needle on the world’s toughest problems.
About the Author
Ted S.
Principal Business Development Manager
Ted leads development of partnerships for wildlife conservation at Vulcan. The last five years Ted has spent extensive time in Africa with protected area managers and field personnel to understand their challenges. He has identified and engaged with the funding, technology, and deployment partners needed to bring solutions to those challenges. Ted began his career as an engineer. His graduate studies in International Science and Technology Policy and work as a Study Director at the National Academies of Science prepared him well to understand how to approach and overcome technology adoption barriers for market failures like wildlife conservation through partnerships, out of the box thinking, and perseverance. Follow him at @tedschmitt (twitter)

Category Tags
Conservation Technology
Partnerships
Tech4Good
Wildlife Conservation
About the Author
Ted S.
Principal Business Development Manager
Ted leads development of partnerships for wildlife conservation at Vulcan. The last five years Ted has spent extensive time in Africa with protected area managers and field personnel to understand their challenges. He has identified and engaged with the funding, technology, and deployment partners needed to bring solutions to those challenges. Ted began his career as an engineer. His graduate studies in International Science and Technology Policy and work as a Study Director at the National Academies of Science prepared him well to understand how to approach and overcome technology adoption barriers for market failures like wildlife conservation through partnerships, out of the box thinking, and perseverance. Follow him at @tedschmitt (twitter)

Category Tags
Conservation Technology
Partnerships
Tech4Good
Wildlife Conservation
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