An Integrated PDA/GPS System to Collect Standardized Road Kill Data

In the U.S. alone, 725,000 - 1,500,000 animal-vehicle accidents are estimated to occur each year. This figure is likely to have increased within the last decade which means even higher ungulate deaths, over 200 human fatalities, and billions of dollars in property damage. Currently, a comprehensive system designed to provide accurate nationwide statistics on animal-vehicle collisions is non-existent. The researchers at WTI are developing the "Roadkill Observation Collection System" (ROCS), integrating customized software with a field-rugged instrument for the collection, integration, and analysis of standardized, spatially-accurate animal-vehicle collision data. This project demonstrates how a Personal Data Assistant (PDA) in combination with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and customized software is an efficient, cost-effective tool to collect spatially accurate and standardized animal-vehicle collision data. Phase I of this project focused on the initial development of a prototype software and hardware data collection system. Currently, Phase II of this project targets "real world" testing of the software and field-rugged PDA-GPS hardware for "proof-of-concept". The goal of Phase II is to apply the data collection components of the ROCS in a variety of settings and organizations to obtain feedback and adapt the system to ensure stability, ease of use, and applicability of standardized, and spatially precise collection of animal-vehicle collision data. Ultimately, both management and maintenance personnel could be outfitted with this hardware and software to record field data. With accurate, standardized data, transportation agencies will be better able to conduct analyses in order to apply mitigation measures such as wildlife warning signs or wildlife fencing and crossing structures to reduce animal-vehicle collisions and increase driver safety. After Phase II is complete, WTI hopes to deploy larger fleets of the field data collection units for institutional use and application. In addition, WTI would like to expand the output, archiving, and analytical aspects of the system. Other features of the system that also may be developed could include a horizontal expansion of the software to collect other road maintenance or traffic data that have a spatial component. The objective of this research project is to adapt the prototype data collection software designed in Phase I and to conduct a Phase II pilot study of field-rugged PDA/GPS units that will enable transportation agencies, natural resource management agencies, and other interested parties to easily collect spatially accurate animal road kill data.