Saturday, July 16, 2011

iNaturalist - more tech-based citizen science

In my search for fun, useful citizen science projects that involve smartphones and location data, I somehow managed to miss iNaturalist until now.  It's too bad, because this project seems to work a lot better than other ones I've tried out.  Among other things:

  • species are organized on a database that is hierarchical based on taxonomy, making it easy to search, make partial identifications, and obtain linked info.
  • For some species, range maps are already present, and there are plans to upload more
  • You have the option to control your geoprivacy, meaning you can upload location data that only you and the site admins can see.
  • Projects are versatile and seem easy to set up (I haven't tried yet, though).
  • The iPhone app and website are easy to use and not buggy.
  • There are a lot of neat people on the website who will help ID organisms.  In some cases, I've had IDs entered within minutes of an upload
  • It is easy to save observations on the phone and upload them when you are in a WiFi area.
  • It's fun!
So far, it doesn't appear that there is an easy way to track abiotic features of the natural world, such as weather events, urban hydrology, or geologic features.  That may, in fact, be too off-topic for the website, but I hope someone creates one for those things someday.

If you're interested, try it out!  You can see/follow my profile and sightings here.

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