Coastal Walkabout citizen science framework is out of the gates!

Yesterday we launched Coastal Walkabout, a new open access citizen science initiative which utilises smart phone technology and social media to engage and motivate local communities to gather scientific observations within coastal and estuarine environments in Western Australia. This projects sits at the intersection of 3 of the things I hold dear: technology, open access science and the ocean – in Canada we call that a hat-trick!

The project started about 2 years ago with a brief chat amongst myself, Lars Bejder (Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit) and Tom McMurray, president of the Marine Ventures Foundation. A second quick set of calls and Skype sessions set into motion an incredible trip across the Western Australia (funded by McMurray – thanks Tom!) to assess how smartphone technology could be used to monitor coastal ecosystems in remote locations, and to figure out if the people who lived in these places would embrace technological approaches to help them monitor things in their coastal ‘backyard’. This spawned the first Coastal Walkabout experiment, and we’ve presented some of the results of this before.

Skip forward to November 2013 and the Coastal Walkabout project has blossomed into an extremely capable and extensible system for collecting a variety of data using Android and iOS mobile devices. The framework is built on the industrial strength of Gaia Resources Biological Data Recording System and served to the world using an easy to manage WordPress Network, with easily modified Android and iOS apps to collect geo-referenced data in the field. Essentially we’ve created the killer tool-kit for executing smartphone enabled citizen science projects. Visit the Coastal Walkabout website to get the apps, see the data and get involved.

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