discussion / Community Base  / 8 May 2019

Virtual Meetup Discussion: Tools and Spaces for Collaboration

Hi everyone, 

We're just a few hours away from our next virtual meetup, this one will be all about Tools and Spaces for Collaboration. We'll hear from our three speakers, Lou Woodley, Corinne Pitts, and @shahselbe , who will set the scene. This time we're also going to have short presentations from @hikinghack and @Damian who are running local makerspaces. We'll then open up the floor for some open discussion to dig into the topic at hand. Remember, you can stil join us byl registering here!

Ahead of meetup we're starting this thread to share the main questions we're seeing come in as people register. These themes will shape the open discussion in the second half of the session, so it should give you a bit of an idea of what you're going to see come up this meetup. 

The big questions we're seeing: 

The Overarching Question: How do we as the WILDLABS Conservation Tech community collaborate? What's needed, how can we have bigger impact?

  • How do we turn thousands of WILDLABS members into even more of a conservation problem solving force to be reckoned with? (Australia)

How do we create/facilitate collaboration?

  • What are the go to technologies at the moment for developing collaborative spaces. (Belgium)
  • European network coordination requires state of the art tech to remain appealing & dynamic. How can I strengthen my collaboration with an EU network during in-person meetings & webinars? (Belgium)
  • I co-founded a co-working/makerspace and have a long-term interest in helping people make and share tech, etc. How to connect maker communities to science communities, when it's no-one's "job" to build the links? (UK)
  • I work on tools and spaces internally in the organization -- would love to learn more about the bigger picture. What new ways of collaborating and innovating are out there? (USA)
  • Ideas and how to best connect/link between existing and upcoming collaboration platforms efficiently. (Switzerland) 
  • How do we encourage conservation agencies to collaborate on tools like #WildEye, at https://oxpeckers.org/wildeyemap/? (South Africa)

How do we best participate in collaborative efforts?

  • I want to meet people and collaborate, how we can connect efficiently with people of all around the world? (Mexico)
  • Find others and spaces to collaborate, brainstorm, apply for funding and run small-scale projects that can be used for field work (Sweden)
  • I'm involved with a civic code group in Oakland and want to see how others are approaching the deployment of technology. how can we make the biggest difference with our code (USA)
  • I know how online collaboration can work for programmers, but I don't know how (well) it works for other tech fields.(UK)

Local labs, decentralising/democratising knowledge/tech

  • How can better support local communities in the field to become makers and users of tool spaces? (UK)
  • Are there any Conservation Technology Labs out there? How are they being utilized? What kind of operational models do they have? (Kenya)
  • Learning about tools for community engagement for fauna and flora monitoring UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. (Lebanon)
  • How can we go about appropriating the technology at hand for local communities? (Namibia)

Other discussion points carry forward from the last meetup about open-source tools:



  • Options for collaborative frameworks to support the roll-out of new biodiversity surveillance and monitoring technologies. (UK)
  • How do you suggest finding collaborators who have the time and resources to help early-career researchers use open-source tech? (Switzerland)
  • How can greater and transparent collaboration across org's develop and deploy more low-cost/open-source solutions? (UK)

Sustainability and mobilising community

  • I’m developing open source, low cost drones for conservation. How to do financially sustain the development of open source projects, and build a community around them. (Spain)
  • What models can open source innovators rely on to spread their products and reach users? (UK)
  • How these low-cost tools achieve scale and/or are funded (USA)
  • Open source business models and community building. (USA)
  • How can we rally the open-source community around camera trap work? (USA)
  • How do groups using open-source make reproduction of their products feasible for others? (USA)

I think this is going to be an interesting discussion, i hope you'll join us and help dig into these questions. 


Yeah there are a few things that are pretty specific to where we are in our prototyping/manufacturing phase. I would really love:

  • Pick-and-place: Our electronics manufacturing is just barely on the cusp of needing a pick-and-place machine, so we will be buying one in the coming months. My lead electrical engineer knows a lot about which ones are worth it in terms of entry level machines (maybe holding 20 reels) and we optimize board design for those sorts of tools anyways. 
  • Form 3L: We have had a great experience with the Form 2, and really like the quality and materials available on SLA printers, but could use bigger print volume. If we had the Form 3L, I definitely know that I would put good use to it. There is another large capacity SLA manufacturer that we are working with on a testing level and will be getting one of their machines, but its still a prototype so not so user friendly (no GUI, need to SSH in, etc.)
  • Waterjet, maybe even something like the Wazer: We do a lot of installs that require bracketing and supports. Previously we have used acrylic (on the laser cutter) or PCB (ordered from PCBWay or ALLPCB) to create bracketry for our sensor stations but would love to have some in-house capacity to do that with metal. 
  • CNC/mill: I'd love a Tormach, Shopbot, or something equivalent. We worked with the 1100M and Shopbot during our Supplyframe DesignLab residency and it allowed us to do a lot of neat suff, including CNC bouys and injection molds, but those come at higher capital and operating costs.  

This is obviously a lot of money in equipment. Just the first three are maybe $26k USD in just machines and that goes up to $50k+ for the whole lot. So we pick and choose what is needed. One thing I didnt get into was what I consider the best setup for a conservation technology lab, what is essential, and what were mistakes in purchasing. As a rule of thumb, I would say to hold off on something until it is absolutely holding back scaling that effort up. And try to partner with labs that have that sort of capacity or outsource whatever you can. 

All great ideas Shah. Perhaps, given that you are already a long way forward with your shop, it would pay for all of us as developers to 'chip in' and centralize machinery? And some of this can certainly be spread around, if space is an issue for example. There are no doubt a number of shops all over the world that could work. Generally though, I reckon we should definitely start to think about getting everying possible for WILDLABS 'in-house' so-to-speak. First of all, it has some major logisitcal (not to mention ethical - I always worry about what's going on in the places we get our PCBs made etc.) advantages. Early investors have essentially bought time on a given machine (e.g. x dollars up front equals y time), whilst others can pay later for usage or apply for free time. And it's not just machines: for example, I'd much rather pay for any hand assembly, fabirication etc., in house than out-of-house, even if it was a bit more expensive. Maybe this is all something that can be put to WWF and potential funders too: imagine an in-house pick-and-place and/or water jet cutter being used by all of us strategically? Lots to consider...