Topic: Wildlife apps

Slightly off topic, I suppose, but I am the owner of a shiny new android phone, and wondered if anyone can recommend any good wildlife related apps? There is a work side to this request; I reckon that apps are probably going to form a huge part of future wildlife recording, and I wouldn't like SEWBReC to be too far behind in knowledge of what is about. The best guide I have found so far is this one: http://visitwoods.org.uk/en/visit-woods … 2ntXdmizVw
Though sadly most apps are still iPhone only sad Does anyone use the Noah app? It would be interesting to know where all the records it appears to generate are going!

Whilst pondering on this... I also think that as an umbrella organisation, ALERC could be looking at getting involved in any suitable app developments, and try to make sure that any data collected can be easily passed on to LRCs. I guess this is quite far down on the wish list, but perhaps something which could be considered at the conference. I know Charles Roper did an excellent presentation on ecological technology at the NFBR conference... maybe this could be poached for ALERC?

Elaine

Elaine Wright
Senior Projects and Communications Officer
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre www.sewbrec.org.uk
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SEWBReC - - - - - - - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEWBReC

Re: Wildlife apps

I remember seeing some info on a couple of other android applications a while ago but can remember where or what.

Adit seem to be moving onto smartphone and tablet platforms.

http://www.aditsite.co.uk/index.htm

We did test their PDA software without much success - the software was probably fine but the lack of documentation kept stalling us, although Adit were quick to help, and in the end we didn't have time to keep working on it. I guess PDA stuff has had it's day

Graham Hawker
Thames Vallley Environmental Records Centre

Re: Wildlife apps

That's a good list of nature/wildlife related app. We are developing an Android app for wildlife recording. It's about 80% completion. You can find the demo here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0HDTPzQ … ature=plcp

Cheers,
Luck

rECOrd

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi,

I think Maverick just aobut qualifies.  It is a mapping app that can use a range of online mapping sources including OS Maps down to 25K.  I use it for 6 figure grid references, marking locations as waypoints, as well as navigation and compass directions.

http://codesector.com/maverick

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

Re: Wildlife apps

As Graham mentioned, there are the Adit apps:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/deve … it+Limited

I've not used them, though. I keep things quite simple actually and use a combination of GPS Status (the short video on that page is fun, btw) and Evernote (both free). You can set GPS Status to show OSGB grid references. I then use use its built-in 'send' feature (Android has this nice feature that enables one app to send something to another app) to send my current co-ordinates to Evernote. This creates a new note in Evernote with the grid reference and a link to Google maps (handy for later verification). I can then type in whatever I like into my Evernote note. This is flexible and works well. Evernote also allows you to attach audio clips and photos to notes, which is handy. What's nice about this is that Evernote automatically syncs with the desktop client - you don't even need to think about transferring your data out of your phone. Once you're back at your desktop, you can transcribe your notes into a proper recording app with all the comforts a full size keyboard, screen and nice cup of tea affords. The notes automatically have a date and time attached to them when they're created. You can even share notebooks, making it a collaboration. Here's one I made earlier with only one record in, but it demonstrates the idea quite nicely:

https://www.evernote.com/pub/charlesroper/records

Having observed the way recorders work in the field, I'm not entirely convinced that the form factor and relative fragility of smartphones are ideal for field work. The keyboards are tiny making it tricky to quickly type which might slow people down. It's still much quicker, easier and more flexible to whip out a notepad and pencil and scrawl your records like that. Having said that, I'm hardly a die-hard recorder so am probably not the best judge, although I do spend a fair amount of time out with recorders observing their behaviour. A recorder of recorders if you will. smile

Update: GPS Essentials looks interesting; I'm going to give that a whirl. The Maverick app Mike mentioned also looks good quality.

Re: Wildlife apps

I agree with Charles about the 'form factor' - that puts me off apps too. For a couple of years I've been experimenting with a little GPS data logger that allows waypoints to be tagged with a voice recording. I've been using this in the field to make records and it's pushed my productivity right up - I don't even have to break my stride to make a record!

The ease and speed of use in the field comes at the cost of post-processing the recordings to turn them into fully-fledged records, but I've developed a desktop application to help me to that and I think that overall the time taken to make a record is no more - and probably much less - than using an app in the field. (I've created a website to document and share the project ideas and software - www.gilbert21.org.uk).

Although the GPS device is tiny (about half the size of my mobile phone) - it does mean that I now carry two devices around with me - a phone and a GPS data logger - which is not ideal. Ideally I'd like to be able to use a phone to make GPS tagged voice recordings, but I haven't explored this at all yet.

Rich

Richard Burkmar
Merseyside BioBank LRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Rich, Love it. I too have found voice recording to be the idea way to make notes in the field. In fact, I've got about 5 dictation machines sitting around in drawers because I make so many notes while out walking. The reason they're sitting in drawers now is because Evernote on my phone has mostly taken over because it can take audio notes, and can geo-tag them. It even gives you a general location *name*, which is handy if you don't have anything more specific. I'm not sure how accurate the geo-tag is, though. Looking at a couple of previous notes, it looks quite good. Evernote also has an API, so you can work with your data and extract metadata programatically: http://dev.evernote.com/documentation/cloud/. I use a widget on the home screen which means the button to make a recording is just one tap away.

Another tool I use is Dropbox, which has a very handy ability to automatically upload any photos you take on your phone to your Dropbox account, thus making the photos automatically accessible on all of your desktop PCs and via the Dropbox API. What's nice about this is that you don't have to remember to upload the photos yourself. I've found this particularly liberating. Knowing that any photo or video I take on my phone (which are also geotagged) will just be there on my computer is a breath of fresh air. Once at my computer I use XnView to browse the photos and use Edit > Metadata > Open GPS Location in GeoHack to gain access to a variety of mapping tools.

Here's a picture I took last week on my phone while walking in the wood here at Woods Mill:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/256478/images/2 … .09.28.jpg

I used XnView to give me the following GeoHack page: http://toolserver.org/~geohack/geohack. … .268333_E_ . This is based on the lat long values the phone tagged the photo with: 50

Re: Wildlife apps

I must admit to not doing a huge amount of recording using my phone or otherwise, but I did use the HTC footprints app which came with my phone. Although not designed for biological recording it seemed quite handy as when it opens you take a photo and geotag it by GPS or map, then you can either type notes in or record a voice memo. You then export to a kmz file. Lots of post-processing needed but quite handy as an aide-memoire for the odd record. Completely unsuitable for proper recording in the field though - I shall have to read through the other suggestions. I have used GPS Status as well.

Teresa (on a lunch break from learning Rodis from Luck - looking forward to the app!)

Teresa Frost
WeBS National Organiser, BTO. NFBR Council Member.
ex-ALERC/CBDC/KMBRC

9 (edited by burkmarr 26-03-2012 13:10:51)

Re: Wildlife apps

That's really interesting Charles - seems like there may well already be a phone app that I could use in place of my GPS data logger. I was always worried that using an app in the field for dictation may not be as 'instant' as the data logger I use. But your description of the button to make a recording being 'just one tap away' makes me really curious to try it out. (Unfortunately I don't have a smart phone at the moment, but I'm seriously thinking about it now!)

The fact that Evernote comes with an API means that I could easily integrate the output with the Gilbert software. It could, potentially, be much more convenient than using the data logger by removing the tiresome step of periodically downloading the data from the logger to my computer too. Yes the more I think about it, the more I like the idea!

I am with you on Dropbox. I only discovered this a few months ago, but its completely changed the way I work. One potential drawback of using a desktop application like Gilbert to manage your personal records is that the database sits on one computer - so if you are not in front of that computer you don't have access to the database. Enter dropbox!

My Gilbert database sits in a folder on my computer which dropbox monitors and continually synchs to the 'cloud'. But in fact I have this Dropbox client software on all the three computers that I regularly use. This means that Dropbox takes care of keeping these three copies of the database in synch. Effectively, for me as a user, it's the same as being able to access the same single database from any of the computers. Initially I thought that this would be no good because some of the files in the Gilbert database can be large and I thought that making a change to one of these would provoke Dropbox to upload the whole database file - but no!- Dropbox only uploads the changed bytes. Awesome!

As well as accepting files from the GPS data logger, the Gilbert software can also make records from photos by accessing the EXIF metadata. Georeferenced photos are ideal. I opened the photo you posted in Gilbert - you can see what it made of it here: http://www.merseysidebiobank.org.uk/temp/g21.jpg . It suggested me as the recorder because I'm in the options as the default recorder. But the location and date information should match your expectations. Gilbert cross references the GR to a gazetteer derived from free OS data to suggest a place name (much as Evernote probably does).

Rich

Richard Burkmar
Merseyside BioBank LRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Dipterists Forum has been using Dropbox too, in an entirely different way.
I edit their Bulletin and have to deal with a large number of incoming material, articles and photographs etc.. Contributors now dump their contributions into our Dropbox where they sit waiting until they are assembled into our newsletter. Because these files are accessible to our editorial team etc. whilst they are sitting there, we can now have several editors cast their eye over the contributions - improving the proof-reading considerably and allowing authors to make changes to their articles in a way that is far less confusing to the editor who previously had to rummage around lots of emails to try and locate the most recent version. So it's great for anyone who has to assemble a newsletter.
One other use has occurred to me. When travelling abroad one can waste an awful lot of time hunting around on maps looking for likely places to spend a few hours in a tasty wildlife spot. If only we knew of a handful of good sites to visit - as recommended by naturalists who had been there before. A well organised Dropbox folder containing Google Earth kmz points that could be uploaded to a SatNav/GPS/phone would provide such locations.

Darwyn Sumner

Re: Wildlife apps

Following the heads up from Charles about the Evernote app, I decided it was something that I had to try out. So I got a new Android phone (thankfully a 'free' upgrade) and the free Evernote app and associated account and used the Evernote API for C# to create an interface for the Gilbert 21 software (which is written in VB.NET).

It's not fully documented yet, but there's a brief overview here: http://www.gilbert21.org.uk/WhatsNew.aspx

After a little practice with using the Evernote app, I find it a really useful way of making records in the field which I post-process with Gilbert 21. It's almost as convenient as the data logger method for audio records. The data logger is slightly easier to use since it only requires the press of a single physical button and can be used one-handed without looking at the device. Making an audio record with the  Evernote phone app takes a little longer, is generally a two-handed affair and you have to look at the device.

Having said that it is still remarkably simple and fast and, to my mind, a much more convenient and natural way of making a biological record in the field than using a forms app. There are also a few advantages of the phone app over the datalogger:

1. I don't have to remember to have my datalogger with me. I always carry my phone so I always have the means to make a geographically precise biological record whether or not I have my datalogger on me.

2. Because my Evernote notes are synched to the cloud via my WiFi connection, I never have to 'physically' transfer records between the app and Gilbert 21: it all happens over wireless internet (which is not the case with the datalogger).

3. I can also make records from geotagged text notes made with the Evernote app. This can be convenient in situations when making a record with an audio recording is not - for example if you are with a group of people and would feel a bit of a tit speaking the name of something you've seen into your phone, you just make a text note of the name (or a convenient abbreviation) of what you've seen. It looks like you're just texting someone like a normal person. This also has the advantage of fooling the people you're with into believing that you have friends.

4. It's a convenient way of making records from a photo. Although Gilbert 21 can make a record from any geotagged photo, the fact that Evernote notes can incorporate a photo means that I can connect Gilbert 21 to photos through Evernote more conventiently than other methods.

Rich

Richard Burkmar
Merseyside BioBank LRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Thanks everyone for the replies... I will certainly try using some of these apps for grid refs etc when in the field. Can anyone recommend any particularly good phone based ID guides?

Some of you may be interested in the Invadr app, developed at Swansea University. This is specifically for submitting records of invasive species, and they share all their records with SEWBReC. Not sure what their plans are for records outside of South East Wales! More information here: http://ias-ess.org/app

Elaine Wright
Senior Projects and Communications Officer
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre www.sewbrec.org.uk
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SEWBReC - - - - - - - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEWBReC

Re: Wildlife apps

I have to admit that I bought a Droid for this purpose and have started to program it to act as a recording app. It can use predictive text to look up species names however it would not be able to be exaustive. I tried loading 10s of thousands of species both common and scientific into it and the lag prroved too much. You can type in your own names thereby getting round species names not in the list. So the difficulty is chossing the subset to start with. The space on the phone is limited too and I've been thinking about a tablet app that would be better for surveys rather than casual/walking records.

To cope with the subsets reequired I've been working on an online app to act as a server to the droid app. This would allow subsets such as butterflies to be downloaded onto the phone or tablet. There are some other ways I've been considering and with all these things they are much harder to get right or do a good job of that one first thinks, not least getting to grips with new languages and new operating system restrictions.

Tony

Tony Price
Data Manager, Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC)

Re: Wildlife apps

Elaine, depending on what level of id you are looking to work to iSpot is developing a range of mobile based guides targeted at a range of ability: http://www.ispot.org.uk/mobilekeys/

Tony, it may be worth you taking a look at the personal recording system Rich has developed, because records are made in the field via voice recording, photo or text you can enter anything you like and are limited only by the capacity of your PC or wherever you choose to store the database.

The entry of the record also allows you to make up your own name/tag or connect live to the NHM taxon dictionary for an up to date scientific, i actually use my copy for positioning Geological features as well as bat boxes/rot holes for checking later, and for making general environmental notes i would like position and date tagged with.

Ben Deed - LERC Officer
Merseyside BioBank

Re: Wildlife apps

Thanks I will look. The problem with iSpot as I recall is that they own the data not the LRC or recording group and the data goes to the NBN.

Also voice recording and pics require post production work and I'm trying to avoid this. I have thousands of geo tagged photos but turning them into records requires someone to name the species in each one. If you can select a name and take a picture on a mobile device it can be named and geo tagged at the same time as creating a record for import to say MapMate or Recorder.

I was a Reserve Warden for a while and used a audio recording device to capture the species as I walked. It took me about 2 hours to record the site interest and about 4 to type it up/data entry. I want to be able to capture the data once and put it straight into a suitable database.

I use an app that records my position every 10m of movement against the clock syncronised with my camera clock. When I get home I load the geo info and it tags my photos. I can then load them into say Picasa and check/alter positions en mass. This does not resolve the naming of species or habitats though.

I need to see some of these things people are using me thinks.

Tony Price
Data Manager, Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC)

Re: Wildlife apps

Tony Price wrote:

Thanks I will look. The problem with iSpot as I recall is that they own the data not the LRC or recording group and the data goes to the NBN.

As far as I know (but thats not saying much) the only data to make it out of iSpot was some bugs that Tristan Bantook manually extracted (and which were uploaded to the NBN).

Charlie Barnes
Information Officer
Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership

Re: Wildlife apps

The technology of biodiversity informatics is advancing so quickly that it's stretching our current understanding of how best to use it. (I suppose this is true of technology in many other areas of biology too.) There's a lot of technical innovation and research going on, but less into how people best interact with or use the technology.

Biological recording is a perfect illustration of this. It would be really nice to see some biodiversity informatics research which looks closely at how biological recorders use the emerging field-based/mobile technologies and what the benefits and disadvantages of the various technologies are under different recording scenarios.

It should start with a forensic examination of what is going on when a person makes a biological record. We usually think about it very simply: someone sees/hears an organism and they make a record. But when you break it down, there are many different distinct phases, e.g:

1.    an organism is encountered;
2.    it is observed and studied;
3.    it is determined (as far as possible) ;
4.    it is recorded;
5.    the recorded information is 'curated' (databased or whatever);
6.    the determination and other details are, if necessary, reviewed/refined;
7.    the record is used by the recorder to increase their understanding of nature;
8.    the record is (optionally) passed into the wider recording network (e.g. via LRC or recording scheme).

Mostly, phases 1-4 happen in the field. Number 5 tends to happen away from the field but, increasingly with mobile technology, can also happen in the field. Phases 6-8 tend to happen away from the field. Technology has a role to play in each phase. Currently we in the 'biological recording community' place a heavy emphasis on 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8. My feeling is that we are not thinking carefully enough about 2, 6 and 7. The way we deploy some of the new technologies is tending to reinforce this.

For example, to promote patient observation and sound determination, we should not force users of biological recording software to make a determination

Richard Burkmar
Merseyside BioBank LRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Thanks for the tip about ispot mobile keys, I have added the link in to my phone and will try giving them a whirl some time soon.

I was interested to see this pop up in my facebook news feed today - a Bird Track app which feeds to BTO et al: https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta … dHJhY2siXQ

It seems like a reasonable notebook style set up, which can still be used to take observations even without a Bird Track account. I guess the issue will still be transferring the records into an LRC database easily.

I guess I mostly view my phone as a potential stash of ID guides and notebook with a handy GPS component, rather than worrying massively about getting the records into a Recorder ready format. But I am very much at the casual end of recording, so I don't have to deal with copious fieldnotes or large amounts of species! I guess using a form based app would get extremely fiddly for recording more than a couple of species, but would still appeal to the casual recorders out there who only send in ad hoc records to LRCs when they spot something of particular interest.

Obviously  there is a wide difference between the needs of casual and hard core recorders, so there is plenty of scope for the marketplace to take many different types of app aimed at different levels of knowledge and interest. It would be nice if all these fed into LRCs... but that would be an ideal world, I suppose wink

I am looking forward to seeing the rECOrd app, to see how succesful an app developed by an LRC can become.

Elaine Wright
Senior Projects and Communications Officer
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre www.sewbrec.org.uk
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SEWBReC - - - - - - - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEWBReC

Re: Wildlife apps

The app will be able to run in the offline environment.
Species dictionary and maps can be pre-cached before venture out into the field.

We aren't far of the pre-beta release. I will keep you inform.

Cheers,
Luck

rECOrd

Re: Wildlife apps

Yes - as you say 'many different types of app aimed at different levels of knowledge and interest' - that's exactly what we need. Good point about occasional casual recorders too - the last thing that they want to do is any post-processing. I think most would be quite happy to open a forms app on their phone, put the record in, send it somewhere where it will be picked up and used, and hardly think of it again. Post processing is a better option for recorders who want to maintain a database of their own personal records and explicitly manage their distribution.

Rich

Richard Burkmar
Merseyside BioBank LRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Thanks for the thoughtful post Rich - would love to hear you talk about this at the NBN conference or something!

Teresa Frost
WeBS National Organiser, BTO. NFBR Council Member.
ex-ALERC/CBDC/KMBRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Just wanted to correct some of the misunderstanding about the OPAL iSpot project and data!

iSpot's primary aim is to help people learn about wildlife, not to be an online recording system. However, the observations that get put on iSpot do have the data needed to form biological records, and we are keen that they are made available.

We don't export data direct to NBN, because although iSpot does encourage people to learn about data verification we don't regard the data as fully verified unless it has been approved by a recognised recording scheme. We are beginning to supply data to those recording schemes that wish to have it, about eight of them so far, but at the moment it is only semi-automated and it will be a while before the process happens in a quick way for a large number of schemes. We don't yet have the ability to auto-filter data geographically to supply to records centres, although we are open to requests for specific projects where there is a pressing deadline.

It's true that the only dataset to arrive on NBN explicitly from iSpot is that kindly collated by Tristan Bantock for the shieldbug recording scheme, but over the last 8 months or so we have supplied data to schemes including the UK Ladybird Recording Scheme, the Mammal Society, the British Dragonfly Society and several others, some of which may be on the gateway by now.

iSpot doesn't claim to 'own' the data, the original observers retain ownership, but our terms of use say that it will be passed on to bona fide recording schemes.

As ever, there are questions about the duplication between national schemes and LRCs if we send iSpot data to both, and also as a result of observations added to iSpot also being sent in direct to recording schemes. These issues are always going to be difficult to fully resolve, but we are in discussion with the Biological Records Centre about whether we can link up with the Indicia/iRecorder project to make data flows more efficient.

Going back to apps and mobiles, the keys on iSpot are available formatted for web-connected mobile devices (but only when online):
http://www.ispot.org.uk/mobilekeys/

and we are currently trialling an app that will allow observations to be posted to iSpot from Android devices, with an iOS version to follow.

Martin

Martin Harvey

Re: Wildlife apps

kitenet wrote:

iRecorder project

Any chance of some meat on this bone ...?

(What is it? I have had my head in the ground since last year!)

Charlie Barnes
Information Officer
Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership

Re: Wildlife apps

[ears prick up] iRecorder?  First I have heard of this.  Anybody know where I can find out more info?  Is this to be a radically new Recorder, or just Recorder 6 for online use?

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

Re: Wildlife apps

Actually, a web enabled Recorder that is hosted by a knowledgable and competent third party could resolve many issues!

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

26 (edited by BDeed 17-05-2012 12:13:36)

Re: Wildlife apps

Interestingly iRecord was recently mentioned on Twitter by UK Ladybirds "iRecord is an online system for recording and verifying biological records linking to Indicia (an online database) - exciting developments" following a citizen science meeting in Stirling, i have requested additional info and will post on here if/when i learn more.

My worry is it'll be another exciting system that bypasses LRCs, good for getting digital data into the public domain and for public involvement, but potentially damaging to LRC functions and all that entails at local levels. Hopefully my concerns will be found to be completely unfounded.

Ben Deed - LERC Officer
Merseyside BioBank

Re: Wildlife apps

Since it has been mentioned outside LRCs I'll just say Alerc directors know about it but have been requested not to say anything more at this stage.

Teresa Frost
WeBS National Organiser, BTO. NFBR Council Member.
ex-ALERC/CBDC/KMBRC

28 (edited by charlieb 17-05-2012 13:29:17)

Re: Wildlife apps

Apologies for being blunt, but why? Surely LRCs should be involved in anything that involves "recording and verifying biological records"?

Charlie Barnes
Information Officer
Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership

Re: Wildlife apps

LRCs are involved insofar as they have consulted Alerc directors as LRC reps at a fairly early stage - once they've dealt with directors feedback it will be opened up to the broader community AFAIK. Please don't shoot the messenger - as directors we do out best between us to represent LRC interests as best we can when we get the opportunity - better that than LRCs not be involved at all in this kind of thing, or only at a late stage?

Teresa Frost
WeBS National Organiser, BTO. NFBR Council Member.
ex-ALERC/CBDC/KMBRC

Re: Wildlife apps

Re "iRecorder", first thing to say is that I got the name wrong! It is "iRecord" and is not specifically linked to the Recorder database, so apologies if I've caused confusion there.

iRecord is a project under development at the Biological Records Centre. My understanding from BRC is that ALERC has been contacted regarding the project, as Teresa says, but I don't know any more than that. David Roy of BRC has asked me to pass on the following information:

"The aim of iRecord is that it becomes a point of verification for Indicia-based sites (e.g. those based on NSS sites

Martin Harvey

Re: Wildlife apps

BDeed wrote:

My worry is it'll be another exciting system that bypasses LRCs, good for getting digital data into the public domain and for public involvement, but potentially damaging to LRC functions and all that entails at local levels. Hopefully my concerns will be found to be completely unfounded.

What if the data (verified, presumably) entered into the system were very easily obtainable (e.g., via a download in, say, Recorder format) and could be imported into your own local database so that it may better serve your local products and partner services? Being able to import clean, fully verified data directly into Recorder sounds like heaven to me! It would mean I could spend less time cleaning and verifying messy data and more time improving our products and adding value to the data. smile

Charles

Re: Wildlife apps

Charlesroper wrote:

What if the data (verified, presumably) entered into the system were very easily obtainable (e.g., via a download in, say, Recorder format) and could be imported into your own local database so that it may better serve your local products and partner services?

That would of course be great! I look forward to seeing what they come up with..

Ben Deed - LERC Officer
Merseyside BioBank

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi,
The iRecord project is still in the early stages of development and consultation.  The BRC have been consulting with national recording schemes and I

Re: Wildlife apps

Sounds like an exciting initiative!

I realise that I am speaking on what is essentially an LRC forum but hopefully nobody will mind if I ask who is representing the non-LRC recording schemes?  From my own point of view I am thinking about conservation NGOs such as the National Trust for Scotland, but I am sure there are other contexts as well.

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi Mike
So far we've been dealing with the issues of data flow and verification so we've mainly been speaking to the national recording schemes and LRCs and iSpot.  We will definitely talk to conservation NGOs too, as it will be possible to set up customised recording portals in conservation NGO websites which link to the iRecord community warehouse for verification.  Regarding National Trust for Scotland, perhaps we could pick this up at the SBIF meeting this Friday, will you be there?
Best wishes
Paula

Re: Wildlife apps

Thanks Paula.  Looking forward to seeing you at SBIF.

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

Re: Wildlife apps

The iRecord website is now live at www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord.  This is the first release and the existing functionality is robust for submitting and verifying wildlife sightings.  It is linked to the Biological Records Centre's live database so if you would like to test the iRecord site please only use real records.  Further developments are underway and we would like users to help shape how it develops, i.e. we welcome feedback and ideas for future functionality.  Promoting and developing the site is central the current BRC work plan (up to 2017) and will remain a key element of the support that BRC offer to the recording community.  The iRecord website has its own forum for asking questions and giving feedback about the site and about data flow.
Best wishes
Paula

Re: Wildlife apps

I've created an account.  It looks promising.  One or two points spring to mind:
1 It doesn't seem possible to default to an administrative county, only a Vice County; this could confuse people looking for their county, as a lot of recorders don't use VCs;
2 There is already a fairly well-known piece of hardware called iRecord, with associated software.  When I searched for it, one or two other uses also came up.  Is it advisable to use an existing, brand name?
3 it froze when I tried to add an image!  Maybe a browser issue? (Opera 12; haven't tried any others yet);
4 The common name option is possibly over-precise; for example, "slow-worm" is OK, "slow worm" was not found.  "toad" brought up a list of fungi, higher plants and insects!  You would have to know it's called Common toad in order to enter it by its common name.  Hopefully that wouldn't be a problem in most cases, though.
5 Attributes are very limited; I think most keen recorders would want the option of adding at least a sex and stage field if possible, rather than just putting things in the comments.  Perhaps that will be added later?
6 Entering a list only allows for one date, locality and General comments.  So there doesn't seem to be a way of entering a list of records unless they're all for the same place, time and circumstances.

The system seems to be working quite well, but doesn't have the functionality of some online systems.  It's hard to see who exactly would use it at the moment, and why they would use it instead of bespoke online schemes, giving the record to a County Recorder, or sending it to a LRC.

Linda Moore
Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records

Re: Wildlife apps

I too had a go at putting some records in earlier to see how it works. I totally agree with all GCER's comments. Being user-friendly and easy to enter and capture records is crucial, so resolving issues like the species names is important (I tried long and hard to enter a Red-tailed Bumblebee - it's common name is in the dictionary as 'Large Red-tailed Bumblebee' and its scientific name includes a sub-genus so even Bombus lapidarius couldn't be found - some simple synonomy would be nice).

For a small LRC I can see this has good potential as we don't have our own online recording system and there is added 'community' value about seeing other records that have been entered online too. Before encouraging new or existing recorders towards such a system I'd like much more info on data flows/verification etc. which there seems to be no information about at present (unless I'm missing it). Will be watching developments with interest...

MARK

Mark Pollitt
SWSEIC (formerly DGERC)

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi
Thank you for the feedback, it

Re: Wildlife apps

Hello,
I've just realised that the URL for the iRecord site in my previous post does not work - sorry!  This is because I put a full stop at the end.
This should work: www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord

There is also something I would like to clarify about data flow from the BRC community warehouse.  If an LRC hosts an Indicia online recording portal on their website which is linked to the BRC community warehouse, any data captured through that portal would be 'tagged' to show that the LRC is the source of the data.  The LRC would be the dataset administrator on the NBN Gateway for any records captured through their portal, i.e. they could use the data access controls to define public access to the data and to grant enhanced access to approved users.

Best wishes
Paula

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi,

I am Paul Barrington, the Biodiversity Data Manager for the Greater Manchester Local Record Centre.

I have just been contacted by Green Man Software to trial a new piece of software called FieldNotes. It appears to be a thick client app for Windows to enable people to input, exchange and report on their wildlife records.

We currently encourage new recorders to submit records to us via the web (RODiS online or RODiS Android app) and provide MapMate for recording groups. We use Recorder6 as a central hub for our clean records.

Has anybody used FieldNotes yet? What experience did you have?

Regards
Paul

Re: Wildlife apps

Hi Paul, We received the software disc and accompanying letter yesterday and we are equally intrigued to know if anybody has used it and can report on it.

Does anyone know the background to this piece of software - who commissioned it for example? Does it use a species dictionary?

Interested to hear anybody's experience with it.

Mark

Mark Wills
Director, ALERC
Ecological Information Officer, N&EYEDC

Re: Wildlife apps

Just in case you haven't found it, the company website is at http://www.greenmansoftware.co.uk

Charlie Barnes
Information Officer
Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership

45

Re: Wildlife apps

a thread is also starting on the NBN Forum on this, see here:
http://forums.nbn.org.uk/viewtopic.php?id=4381

Re: Wildlife apps

At the start of the year I contacted Local Record Centres about a new wildlife recording application developed by Green Man Software (FieldNotes), asking for feedback about the proposed method for transferring data from individual recorders to LRCs.

I would be grateful for any final comments, suggestions or requests concerning the pre-release version of FieldNotes distributed. 

May I also thank organisations / individuals who responded about various aspects of the software.   Based on some very positive feedback we have updated a number of features and extended the documentation to cover some of the more advanced aspects of the software.  FieldNotes will be available to download in May.

Simon Skidmore
Green Man Software Ltd

Re: Wildlife apps

Well, in the true tradition of software development a "May release" does, of course, mean the last day in May.

The first general release of FieldNotes is now available as a shareware (evaluation) version with a 60-day free trial period, so you can install it alongside your current recording software and see how it compares.

The software can be downloaded by following the following link:

http://www.fieldnotes.co.uk/product/download.htm

and is also available on CD by request (again, follow the link above).  If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us via the Green Man Software website, or using the contact information in the software.


If you installed the pre-release version of FieldNotes (distributed to LRC's earlier this year), please read the following information carefully.

Due to feedback from the live-testing phase, we have made a significant change to the database structure.  You should delete the existing database (using the file | delete database menu option) before installing the new version of FieldNotes.

Simon Skidmore
Green Man Software Ltd

Re: Wildlife apps

In response to a large number of requests, we will be addingan Android interface to FieldNotes recording software over the next few months.  The initial 'App' will allow wildlife observations to be uploaded directly from your Android device, and should be compatible with any Android version since around 2010 (Android 1.6 SDK or later).

The reason for posting this is that we are keen to involve a wide cross-section of the recording community in the development process.  There are very few criteria for participation:

-    an active interest in wildlife recording
-    a suitable Android device (Smartphone, Tablet).
-    a basic familiarity with FieldNotes data-entry forms (on Windows)

No technical knowledge required!

If you would like to have a say in the development of FieldNotes on mobile devices, or just have an interest in beta-testing an early version of the FieldNotes Android App, please provide your email address with a brief statement of interest via the Green Man Software website [http://www.greenmansoftware.co.uk/].

Simon Skidmore
Green Man Software Ltd.