Monday, November 22, 2010

Neat Iphone App for Monitoring Watercourses: "Creek Watch"

I just learned about a very neat app from the LA Creek Freak blog.

The CreekWatch app, developed by IBM, allows you to take photros of a creek and report the amount of water and whether or not there is any trash present.

(picture from the Iphone App Store)

This app seems to hold a lot of potential not just for reporting pollution problems, but for sharing neat things you find happening in creeks you visit.  It will be lots of fun to record creeks in flood conditions, drought conditions, when the creek is icing over, when certain plants are blooming nearby, etc, etc, etc. 

I think there is room to add some neat new features as well.  I would like to see places to report if the creek is freezing over, if water pollution is visible, presence of fish, presence of invasive plants, etc.  It is always a hard call because too much complexity may dissuade people from using the app.  However, there is so much more to share about creeks than just the amount of water and trash!

It would be nice if the app had the ability to 'look up' what creek(s) are nearby, and pin the photo to a specific creek on the map, and it doesn't look like that ability currently exists.  At this point, the only way to gather a bunch of data from a single creek seems to be to scroll along it with a map.

It might also be nice to be able to have a small social networking element to this - the ability to add friends and allow for a map showing only their stream visits... maybe the ability to post streams to facebook.  it might quickly get overwhelming and sidetracked, but I don't see much downside to people 'checking in' at their local creek rather than just at Starbucks.

If you have an iphone, try this out and let me know what you think!

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