The classic image of an outdoor adventurer doesn't
include a smart phone in hand, but hunters and other
lovers of outdoor sport are modern people, many of whom
rely on mobile phones and text messaging. While this
is hardly news, some local hunting authorities have
used this fact to establish newsworthy programs that
help protect the wilderness and those who enjoy it.
Hunting, fishing, and environmental violations are
serious business--they pose a threat to our ecosystems,
our recreation, and may even be hazardous for those
who look to the wilderness for hobby or sport. In order
to take action against such violations, and keep accurate
data on them, the rapid transfer of information is instrumental.
The rise and ultimate ubiquity of cell phones has been
a boon to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
by allowing hunters to place a phone call offering a
tip on any violation they may see.
However, relying on tips by phone presents its own
problems. Phone calls demand reliable service and may
call hunters away from their sport, making reporting
more of a hassle and less likely to happen. The program
needed an upgrade, and the DNR delivered. In 2010, they
launched a national program allowing hunters to send
tips anonymously via text messages, in which 27 states
Bringing text messaging to the anonymous tip line boosts
the DNR's efforts by offering the heightened accessibility
and convenience of texting to hunters and other outdoor
adventurers. While a tip line accepting phone calls
is monitored at all hours, the text messaging service
operates during peak hours and beyond, monitoring tips
between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
This texting program has not only made reporting violations
faster and easier, but set a precedent for local agencies
responsible for wildlife conservation. The Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is one such
agency to follow suit: it has launched a similar program
that allows users to submit anonymous tips about violations
of fish, wildlife, or boating regulations, or environmental
law, via text message.
FWC also advertises the possibility of a $1,000 reward
to anyone who provides information via text, such as
tips about illegal hunting, fishing out of season, boating
under the influence, and illegal tire dumping, that
leads to an arrest. Users are issued a confidential
code number when they submit a tip that allows them
to identify themselves should they choose to in this
case. Using a monetary reward as an incentive combined
with offering a mode of reporting violations as convenient
and accessible as texting constitutes a powerful tool
for the FWC.
We may not think of the expansion of technology and
the protection of the wild as congruent interests, but
the expanding applications of SMS show us more and more
that they just might be.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage,
Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.