March 21st, 2011 by Dave Kilbey
The overall aim of the NatureLocator project is to develop a smart phone application for use in monitoring the spread of the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner moth. The app will enable users to take photos of trees and their leaves where attack by the moth is suspected. These photos will automatically be tagged with geospatial and time-based information. The app will then enable the upload of the photo and its geospatial metadata to a location where people interested in the project can provide feedback upon it, primarily in terms of its biological validity (there is a superfically simiar looking disease caused by a fungal species). Therefore, the main tangible output of the product will be a smart phone application, as described above, suitable for use on all major platforms including HTC, Apple (iPhone) and Blackberry.
The crowd-sourcing of mass data sets to support research projects is increasingly becoming a viable and valuable option for researchers. The success of the Galaxy Zoo project (http://www.galaxyzoo.org/) recently demonstrated this phenomenon. The Conker Tree Science project (conceived by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Hull) similarly engaged members of the public across the UK this summer (http://www.ourweboflife.org.uk/) by appealing for evidence of the rapid year-on-year spread of the horse chestnut leaf-mining moth (and its predators, parasitic wasps).
Employing the skills of a User Experience expert we will engage with users of the system and develop tools that will not only benefit the current, NERC-funded Conker Tree Science project, but that are free, open source, and reusable for future projects that require crowd-sourced, research data.