Use of scanable codes for trap and bait station individual ids

It would be nice if TRAP.NZ could develop a code bar that can be scanned by the cell phone app to identify traps and bait stations ids which could make data input simpler. I am envisioning walking up to a trap and scanning the code bar and the app would query me on species caught and other trap data which would make data input simpler and traps easily identifiable (especially when you have a large number of traps and different individuals checking them.)

Interesting idea, we were discussing the use of the app in the field at a meeting this week and there are a couple of drawbacks which I will explain later.

I do I.T. deployment projects which involve distribution of large amounts of hardware into organisations but tend to print my own labels with a small Dymo labelling machine. I include a barcode even if 90% of the time it will never be looked at again, but its there for use one day if needed.

If you have a naming convention for your traps and bait stations that is unique within your project then you could print your own barcodes or get them made. Its just a special font that can be printed and its readable by a barcode reader. Some fonts have the human readable text shown below the barcode so you can still enter it in without a reader, the barcode needs to be pretty big so it can be used with a cell phone camera (its a nightmare trying to find focus on a tiny barcode)

In the situation where you are attaching tags to trap boxes there would be some practical considerations about the material that the barcode will be printed on and the ink used since it will be outdoors exposed to sun and weather. My label machine is fine for labels that will be used indoors but they do fade in the sun and are just made of paper so won’t stand getting wet.

Here are some challenges to using the app in the field I mentions at the start:

  • People in the field who are checking the traps may not have cellular signal.
  • They are handling dead animals and getting rat juice on a device you put near your face would be a concern.
    The second point might be overcome if there are a pair of people checking traps, one to do the dirty work and the other for data entry.

In the short term there would be nothing to stop you getting trap labels made with unique id’s and attach them to trap boxes and maybe include a barcode for future use. I don’t have a suggestion on where would make them for you, but I expect you are looking for somewhere that can make industrial grade asset tags which might be similar to ones attached to vehicles. If you are not too bothered about barcodes, then I reckon ear tags that farmers use on cattle might be a good material and you can probably specify a batch of numbers to use, then just nail them to the top of the box. Again, I don’t have any suggestions or recommendations on where to source ear tags.

For checking a large number of traps without doing the data entry in the field via the app I would tackle it like this and you may be already doing this:

  • First In Assign your traps to a line if not done already - you can do this for multiple traps at a time from Trap->Manage Traps. - (for backyard trapping in my suburb, a line is the street of property where the trap is located, but there are bush reserves with their own lines as well)
  • In a spreadsheet for each line make a page listing of all the trap ID’s in that line in the order that you would walk from one to the next.
  • Add columns to the spreadsheet for species captured, bait, need maintenance etc…
  • Print out the spreadsheet so that the grid lines show and then walk from trap to trap marking off the ones you visited.

When you return to base log into your project via the website and navigate to traps -> add catches

  • Fill in the date and choose the Line you are entering the data for.
  • Enter any information thats relevant for MOST of the traps you visited. So if you put in new bait for example then you can choose that you put new bait in and what kind of bait you used.
  • Unless you caught a particular species in most of your traps I would suggest selecting “None” in the species caught for the moment.
    Click Apply
    This doesn’t yet record any data yet, but you should end up with a list of traps not unlike your printed spreadsheet and you should be able to go down the list one by one and change the species caught on any traps that caught anything or alter the state if any trap was observed to be damaged etc… Note the checkbox to the left of each row, if you have a trap on your list that you didn’t visit for some reason then you can uncheck it here to prevent it from saving a record.
    When you have finished with the list press Save at the bottom and a few moments later you will be done recording that line.

If you want to experiment with adding traps to a line or recording catches via the website without messing up your projects data by mistake, you can make yourself a test project, add a new line in there and assign a few made up traps to it and give it a try there first to get familiar with it.

All the best and hit me up if you have further questions.
(note that I am just a regular user of like you and have no powers of software development)