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July 7, 2014

How To Improve Environmental Health by Crowdsourcing

 

Related Articles: Crowdsourcing and Environmental Health

 

 

Crowdsourced Data Will Improve Everyone’s Health

 

Crowdsourcing is used when contributions from a large group of people are required or a task needs to be subdivided so each contributor handles a small portion. Crowdsourcing is commonly supported by an unidentified online volunteer community as opposed to traditional employees. Recently crowdsourcing has been implemented to improve and document environmental health which the following two examples highlight.

Environmental Health through Creeklife’s Fundrasing tools
Endangered Species

The Instant Wild project is a collaboration of three groups looking to protect endangered species in remote areas of the world. Remote satellite cameras designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions, containing a long lasting battery, and able to take night time pictures with an LED flash have been installed in Kenya. When motion is detected by the cameras they take multiple photos. Crowdsourcing is required to keep track of all the data coming from the cameras each day. Volunteers can download an iOS app and help identify animals that have been photographed. The goal is to protect wildlife and reduce poaching particularly of rhinos which are killed for horn products. Ultimately the Instant Wild project plans to expand into Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas and the South Pole.

Fire Damage Recovery

In September of 2013 a target shooter caused the start of significant fire in Mount Diablo California that was dubbed the Morgan Fire

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shooting range
When the fire was over it was determined that well over 3000 acres of land had been charred. Crowdsourcing is now being used to provide time-lapse documentation of the environmental recovery. Signs that include brackets to hold a phone with a camera have been installed along trails in Mount Diablo State Park. Travelers are supposed to place their phone in the bracket, take a picture and then share via Twitter or Instagram. The idea is to develop a time-lapse that shows how the environment changes over the next year as it starts to recover from the devastating fire. Although it may not yield data that can be analyzed scientifically, the project should provide interesting and educational time-lapse images.

Crowdsourcing provides the opportunity to take on projects that otherwise wouldn’t have been supportable due to resource limitations. As this concept continues to gain popularity it will be interesting to see ways in which environmental health can be studied and improved.

Posted by Mark Contorno

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