CNM and NatureMapr - The Future ??
CNM is a very sophisticated nature mapping website which has been a great success. Recently we released new versions of the smartphone Apps, which should make contributing to CNM easier and smoother. Our membership has grown to over 1200, with over 60 experts offering their assistance. Now it is time to look to the future.
The size and complexity of the NatureMapr system is such that the work of maintenance of the software is a very large job. The Internet workplace is dynamic and is always changing so maintaining our website requires constant attention. So what was originally a hobby for Aaron is now much more than that and requires a lot of dedicated time, more than can be provided by a person who needs to earn a living and support a family. Our current situation is not practical for the future. So the next major step for us is to make the project sustainable in terms of workload and finance.
We need to recruit a paid assistant for part-time involvement in software maintenance. Aaron estimates this will cost at least $70,000 per year. The expense of supporting the database and paying the various servers is in the range of $8,000 to $10,000 per year. So we are looking to find long-term committed funding of at least $80,000 per year. Without this committed funding we cannot continue with the present system.
The BowerBird website is of similar quality to CNM, so it is worthwhile comparing the two. They do some things better than us, but we do some things better than them. Our website was created by Aaron’s volunteer labour, and cost very little, less than $100,000. This expense was recouped by ACT Government grants and we are grateful for that support. By comparison BowerBird cost around $2 million to build. Our website is run almost entirely by volunteers. While BowerBird has volunteers it has paid staff to do the administration and maintenance. So $80,000 per year is extremely cheap for the product we have.
We have survived so far with intermittent small government grants. We appreciate that financial assistance but this way of operating is impractical and impossible. We simply cannot continue this way when we have such a large and complex operation. Without the funding we will just have to reduce the system and structure to a level which is sustainable. This will mean cutting out many features, especially the more complex ones, to reduce the maintenance workload. This is not our preferred option.
So our next major task is to secure funding of $80,000 per year for at least the next three years.