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Report by Svetla Borovska

Tsavo Volunteers is a conservation and humanitarian organization that operates out of the Lumo Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Tsavo West Ecosystem, Kenya. In March of 2014, I traveled there to volunteer with the community, developing websites and story maps, and delivering donated laptops to the park rangers.  In the years that followed, I stayed in touch with Tsavo Volunteers’ founder, Patrick Kilonzo, and volunteered as their website administrator. 

Naturally, I was excited to receive the GISCorps pledge in January of 2018 as I saw an opportunity to help Patrick in his work with the student groups that come to volunteer during spring break.  Unfortunately, the spring of 2018 turned out to be particularly challenging as Patrick had to step away to take care of serious health issues.

Currently, Tsavo Volunteers operates with a small number of professionals who are willing to volunteer, but they are still not hosting or working with students.  However, I would like to share my experience with the GISCorps pledge as I have learned and benefited from it.

It took me a weekend to set up everything, starting with an Organizational Account, called Tsavo Volunteers (with the user name TsavoKenya), and finishing with implementing the corresponding Map Portal at https://tsavokenya.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html. Setting up the ArcGIS Online organizational license and the user accounts went smoothly and pretty fast. In fact, designing the images (banners, logos, and application thumbnails) took most of the weekend, while the license and account setup only took a couple of hours.

I built the main mapping application using Survey123 for ArcGIS, the purpose of which is to collect data and photos from the field.  As this was my first time building a fieldwork mapping application using Survey123 for ArcGIS, I had to create three drafts before finalizing the Wildlife Observation Report App. 

Since the Map Portal is open to everyone over the Internet, I created a User Group called Tsavo2018 to prevent the misuse of the field survey application.  Only students who knew the login would be able to enter information to the Wildlife Observation Report App.  My plan was to either change the password or create a new User Group for the next group of students, depending on the student numbers and data size. The Tsavo Volunteers Map Gallery includes the Wildlife Observation Map (available to the User Group only), as well as the Survey Layer and the Wildlife Observation Report App, which are open to everyone. 

The Tsavo Volunteers Map Portal features the Wildlife Observation Report App, the Wildlife Observation Report Map (available to the User Group only), the Wildlife Observation Report- Stakeholder Map, and the Wildlife Observation Report-Fieldworker Map (available to the User Group only).

It was disappointing that the project did not go as planned because Tsavo Volunteers had to suspend the volunteering for several months at the beginning of 2018, and so far the group has not resumed working with students.  As for me, since I have been looking into GIS consulting as a career path, this experience as an ArcGIS Organization Administrator turned out to be beneficial. It taught me that if I decide to become a consultant someday, I can do it efficiently and confidently in the ArcGIS Online environment.

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