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New Animal Welfare Solution for Livestock

05 September 2019

NEW ZEALAND - Situate Me, the emergency management crowd sourcing specialist behind compassionate Virtual Disaster Assistant Ema, has launched a new animal welfare add-on that allows farmers and lifestylers to register animals left unattended in an emergency.

Livestock owners who are not on the farm, or have to leave, when disaster strikes are able to register their unattended animals with Ema. Ema takes the farmer through a series of conversational questions to establish species, stock numbers, gender, special needs, as well as any dangerous and anti-social characteristics. Farmers are also able to give location details of feedlots, water troughs, loading pens and other resources on their farm, which would assist emergency responders when attending to their livestock.

From a cloud-based dashboard, local authorities and government departments who have installed the platform can gauge the scale of the operation in advance of heading into a disaster zone. Emergency responders can view mapped data to assess the extent of the unattended animal issue and plan how best to prioritise check-ups, feeding, milking, rescue and re-location.

Rob Gourdie, Situate Me’s co-founder, says the unattended animal bot (a first for the emergency management industry) will transform the animal welfare effort in an emergency situation. He adds that the operational impact of Ema’s help for authorities will be huge.

"'Ema for Animals' captures livestock data at the moment it is actually needed and Ema’s questions can be adapted ‘on the fly’ to gain specific details on behalf of the emergency responders. This avoids the overhead of trying to maintain the integrity of a very large set of data over the years, for the day it is finally needed. Experience has shown that confidence in historical data in emergencies is often quite low and often ignored in favour of more immediate ways of gathering data."

With Ema, hundreds, even thousands, of farmers can enter information about affected livestock simultaneously; with the data being up-to-the-minute accurate.

For livestock owners, ‘Ema for Animals’ fulfils a significant emotional need. The extra stress and anxiety that worrying about livestock (and livelihood) adds to an emergency situation cannot be underestimated. Importantly, being able to quickly register unattended livestock may prevent concerned animal owners from breaking through cordons and putting themselves in danger in an attempt to reach their animals.

Situate Me launched the Unattended Animal Registration Bot (‘Ema for Animals’) at the 58th New Zealand Institute of Animal Management conference held in Wellington, last week.

Situate Me is now inviting local councils and emergency management groups to evaluate the unattended animal situational awareness tool with a view to including it in their preparedness resources.

Emergency groups, as well as livestock owners, can find out more about the animal welfare resource – which also includes a register specifically for unattended pets – at www.situateme.com/animalwelfare

Situate Me was formed at a New Zealand Defence Force sponsored Start-up Weekend in Wellington in July 2018. With a focus on humanitarian aid and disaster relief, the workshop guided the Situate Me team (made up of experienced emergency management practitioners, specialist user-experience designers and data scientists), through the development of their project.

After 52 hours, the team - several of whom experienced the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch - pitched their idea of a Virtual Disaster Assistant, Ema, to the judges and came first. In June this year, funds of $60,000 were secured from the Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund to pilot Ema. Contracts for a pilot with a large regional authority are currently being discussed.

You can find out more information about the Situate Me information platform by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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