Utah’s close proximity to nature means roadkill is common along the highways around the state. Daniel Olson came to Utah in 2008 to study how roads are affecting deer, and how many deer were being killed in Utah.
Tracking roadkill locations around the state was done on paper by many people, making the gathering and analyzation of the data overwhelming. Olson says he recognized then that smartphones have enough functions to be data collection tools, so he teamed up with others to create an app to help the process. The information from this is used by the Utah Department of Transportation and Division of Wildlife Resources.
"This information shows them areas where we have hotspots, where high numbers of wildlife-vehicle collisions occur. Then they can go in and start doing mitigation measures such as installing exclusionary fencing, which is typically eight-feet-tall, so that will prevent animals such as deer from being able to access the roads," Olson said.
Olson was the point person for the app creation, but he also worked with Utah State University professors, another grad student, UDOT, and Scott Davis, a programmer from the Automated Geographic Reference Center to create the app. The tool also aims to help UDOT and DWR be more fiscally responsible while keeping the most Utahns safe.
“We can't just put that fencing on every highway throughout the whole state because it's really expensive. Sometimes it can cost up to $100,000 per mile to install fencing of that type. So they really need to target bad areas to get the most bang for their buck."
Funding for the app was provided mainly by UDOT, and the app is only available to state personnel.