Technology… yer doin’ it right now. But how to keep up with it while planning for the future at the same time? Join us next week at Looking Forward: The Future of Animal Welfare virtual conference for a session that’ll answer this question. Moderated by SPCA Tampa Bay’s Martha Boden, Technology: Your Mission’s New BFF features a panel of experts that’ll discuss advancements in technology and data collection that will enable new workstreams to emerge and existing ones to evolve. We checked in with Martha and panelist Brett Yates of Michelson Found Animals to find out what to expect next Tuesday, December 7.
The Association: How do you both stay on top of technology?
Brett Yates: I stay on top of technology through the founders that I talk to on a daily basis. In addition, with Michelson Found Animals as a nonprofit that works closely with for-profit companies, I have companies approach me regularly with new technologies and an interest in us investing or us introducing them to investors that could be a good fit.
Martha Boden: I never feel like I’m on top of technology, but that’s what I find so attractive about it. People are always finding ways to use it to solve problems, and often in ways I hadn’t imagined.
The Association: What’s your favorite technological tool or practice you recently implemented, and how has it impacted your organization?
Brett Yates: One of the challenges we have had during the pandemic is how to host brainstorming sessions. We have tried a lot of solutions, but a combination of a white board or sticky note app matches well with the Owl video conferencing system. With this system, we integrate in office people standing at a white board and sitting around a table with folks working from home. It is the cleanest combination of systems that we have identified so far.
Martha Boden: We’re exploring how best to leverage MS Teams across two campuses and very different jobs. Staff who work in administrative roles have been the fastest to adopt it, and even some line staff who don’t have a dedicated PC are finding useful ways to improve and simplify communication. Others are resistant to the tool, worried that it will disrupt their tenuous work/life balance. I feel like we’re past the days where an employer can “force” employees to use only certain tools—we have to adapt as the tools and needs of our users change, allowing for more diverse needs and interests.
The Association: In terms of technological innovation, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in animal welfare?
Brett Yates: I think the biggest transition we are witnessing now is the industry moving into their own data age, where we are realizing the value of opening data, sharing it, and having industry groups conglomerate data so everyone can see where they are excelling or falling short, etc. I completely support this movement and think it is one of the primary ways we will be able to eventually get much closer to a place where no community is needing to euthanize animals for space.
Martha Boden: I’m excited about how many vendors have decided our profession is worth the investment. Early in my career, there were a handful of tech tools designed for animal welfare work. Now we’re seeing developers explore all sorts of possibilities. While much of it may not become viable tech solutions, the fact that the number of players has increased so dramatically is encouraging.
The Association: How can attendees prep for your session on Tuesday?
Brett Yates: Identify the areas of biggest concern in your shelter where you think technology might be able to help, even if you don’t know what the solution is. Even if you don’t get answers during this session, you will have some good people to ask or point you in the right direction to find solutions that are already available.
Martha Boden: Ask yourself, “How do you define ‘technology’ and how does it play a role in your daily work? Is it a necessary evil, your favorite solution or sometimes both?”
Oh yeah, this session is gonna be good. Register for the conference today if you haven’t already done so, and we’ll see you next Tuesday.
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