While one may typically relate GPS Tracking to road transport, one of BlackBox Control’s biggest users are on water. For over a decade now, BlackBox Control have provided custom solutions to WA’s State Government entity, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

We sat down to have a quick chat with Matthew King, Commercial Business Coordinator for Parks and Wildlife Service – part of the DBCA. Matthew has been with DCBA for 9 years now and plays a key role in BlackBox Control’s involvement with the Department.

What does the DBCA do?

Matthew: DBCA is short for Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and it is combined with the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Rottnest Island Authority, Zoological Parks Authority and Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Parks and Wildlife Service, which essentially uses the tracking solution provided by BlackBox Control, focuses on the protection of wildlife, national and marine parks and nature reserves across Australia.

What prompted the need to get GPS Tracking for your Department?

M: There was a requirement for monitoring operators specifically in the Shark Bay region where there are restricted areas. There was a variable condition that only one of the operators could operate within that restricted area, whereas the other operators couldn’t. So initially, tracking was brought on for the purpose of monitoring compliance among the operators. Today, we have multiple operations in various locations that use the BlackBox Control solutions for similar compliance purposes.

What does the DBCA currently use BlackBox Control for? In what ways has it helped your Department?

M: The main project, which is probably the most successful one, is the whale shark operations. Each vessel has a tracking unit which allows us to track where the vessels have travelled, both in real time and by way of historical reconstruction of trips. In addition to recording the number of passengers on each tour, by using the BlackBox Control solution, the operators can now capture data like the size of the whale shark, the sex, where that whale shark interaction occurred, and the duration of each interaction…all at the push of a button. This information is crucial to the Department year in year out. The solution is also used on various whale watching and tourist vessels within the south west, mainly for compliance reasons.

Previously, much of the information mentioned above had to be done manually on paperwork then sent to the DBCA for the data to be entered. Whereas now with the BlackBox Control solution, everything is automated. With the press of a few buttons, all the required data is recorded, and the BlackBox tracking platform allows you to instantly see a map showing vessel locations and activities.

The solution also helps with invoicing. For example, whale shark operators have a license charge per passenger so utilising the recorded passenger counts allows our Department to invoice the operators directly based on those numbers. This also allows for greater transparency and trust between the operators and ourselves, as they see the exact same data as we do.

Is there any operation in particular where BlackBox Control’s solutions have helped DBCA achieve its business objectives?

M: From a compliance perspective, the data from the BlackBox Control solutions are extremely crucial. As mentioned, we need to know exactly where the operators are due to the restrictions of zones in the Shark Bay area. In one recent instance, it has led to a successful prosecution of an operator who has contravened some area restrictions. This emphasises the credibility of the data and tracking information in that it can be used from an evidentiary point of view.

How has the experience been so far with BlackBox Control?

M: It has been very positive. The platform is simple and straightforward. It has created a lot of efficiencies through automation as mentioned earlier…both in the operational regions and in our branch and head offices. The operators and our Department have found many advantages utilising each of these customised solutions.

What is one area that you think BlackBox Control really excels?

M: From my point of view, the technology around the portal is very easy to use. I am based in the head office, not in the regional area. So even though I am far away from it all, I can quickly get into the portal and look up any information as needed if anyone has a question for me regarding the operations. The process is seamless and to me that’s where BlackBox Control really delivers.

What do you think will be the future of GPS Tracking in the industry?

M: We are heading down a path where the cost of compliance out in the water is getting too high. Getting reliable tracking units for our vessels where we can check on all the data we need seems like a no-brainer when compared to the alternatives out there. I believe that solutions as such will see a lot of use in the future as there’s real opportunity to use this system in a lot of different scenarios.