Smart Infrastructure Planner (SIP)

The Smart Infrastructure Planner, known as SIP, is an open-source GIS toolkit that allows GIS practitioners to see the compatibility of proposed infrastructure projects and land use developments with the national and local requirements for wildlife and habitat conservation. SIP is a central, open-source data tool and source that allows for better planning and decision making. SIP was created by the World Wildlife Fund in January of 2012 and is one of many data tools meant to facilitate better decision making when it comes to conservation. Trying to find information about conservation requirements that can actually be integrated into planning is challenging— even for more developed countries— because the data usually has to be manipulated in order to be displayed on a GIS, and that is with the assumption that data is available at all. SIP inevitably has gaps in its data that reflect gaps in national datasets, but for where data is available, SIP can make planning and decision making smoother. In order to effectively use SIP, the user still has to input basic information, like minor and major roads, roads, and cities, and land cover, but from there, SIP has supplemental data that makes planning for and around conservation much easier. There is data on poaching intensity, mining, current and projected future habitat suitability for vulnerable species, habitat area and connectivity, and a dearth of other metrics essential for conservation planning. With this information, a user can deduce habitat quality, species vulnerability, and calculate the minimum area needed for conservation to be in accordance with a nation’s conservation regulations or goals. All of this could probably be deduced independently but would likely take much more time and resources. However, the WWF doesn’t appear to state when SIP was last updated, possibly because different areas are updated at different rates as data becomes available; the WWF also doesn’t appear to take into account that allowing open access to data about vulnerable species may not be always beneficial and could lead to harm. After all, not everybody with access to data meant to facilitate good decision making has conservation in mind, and for that reason, some information should be made proprietary.


Biodiversity, Data, Regulation