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Presenters: Andrew Simon


Google Doc info


Notes from Google Doc



  • iNaturalist 2-way flow great - allows learning as well as contributing

  • Allows use by larger community

  • Undergrad research - create a field guide - Parks Canada report

  • Needed a lot of on the ground community engagement to get started on iNaturalist

    • Event-based

  • Now - sub-projects on iNaturalist that map to community events

    • Bio-blitz (May)

  • A lot of social media (FB) engagement too - majority of contributors come through this

  • iNaturalist doesn’t “speak for itself” - content getting swallowed up https://www.inaturalist.


  • fund raised for by kayaking around the island
  • did his own independent surveys


  • org/projects/biodiversity-galiano-island

    • Started website

    • Citizen scientists, experts,

    • Motivates participation - a lot of diversity but gaps in time - want to confirm the records, plus adding new species to the list

    • Don’t want to reinvent the wheel - not content dense but photos, diagrams

    • See your observations alongside those of scientists

  • Manually entering the data in a spreadsheet - no scripts - value to do so manually as a curator, but some automation would help

  • Making sense of the patterns - grad research - biogeographic trends - add another level of scientific research

  • Royal BC Museum

  • Surface-temperature modeling

  • Protected areas + private properties, agriculture, forestry, other land-use

  • Cold adapted bumblebees, foraging and nesting - how it changes over the course of the year, in land-use context (forestry, etc) - create a framework for monitoring that gets at important factors in making land-use decisions

    • Pollinators - ecological and economic benefits

    • Funding from CRD - sustainable food and agriculture strategy

    • Ministry of forests - local climate stations funding

  • DIY Arduino chip-set system based - software to visualize, using metrics that are useful to many people

  • iNaturalist - great mechanism of engaging people

    • How to develop local community-based activities, infrastructure (e.g. physical signs, other)

    • How to interface with human needs - other incentives

    • How to sustain long-term monitoring projects

    • Deploying, marketing these technologies to generate revenue, make them more sustainable

    • Help in structuring community engagement through technology?

      • Attach signs to trees with name, QR code linked to iNaturalist

      • What vehicles - how to mediate through tech, companies, other economic engines

      • A welcome sign at the ferry on Galiano

      • Tech community on Galiano interested in micro-climate monitoring - get people in touch with the data as a starting point

      • Relationship with devs of iNaturalist? California Academy of Sciences - connected with them about making changes to iNaturalist?

        • Open source - Google Group where you can bring your concerns

        • Fairly responsive

        • Concerned primarily with their objectives - larger scale

        • Go to them with questions relevant to their purposes

        • Spider diagram :) - available through D3/data-driven doc library

          • Modified with help of a friend/dev

          • Not dynamic

    • iNaturalist is open source:


    • The kinds of things you wish you could do if the designs/tech were there?

      • Diagrams?

      • Sensors?

      • People to gather data?

      • One particular D3 library - can dynamically populate with csv data file

    • Hardest thing to explain to people about citizen science and how they could contribute

      • Confirming species - Pokemon Live! - not everyone has that drive

      • Didn’t want to make a big long list - more interested in deeper things, deep time, relating to species, how it plays out temporally over the year

      • Momentum of project relies on cataloguing - superficial

      • E.g. Algae, collect and press and make artwork - engage a wider audience

      • Biodiversity pinata workshop

      • Big art community in gulf islands

      • It doesn’t have to become data in the end

      • Frameworks that pair up mutual goals

  • Getting started

    • Existing relationships with people who supported the project

    • Local paper articles - engaged families, but limited, got burnt out

    • Community inventories of natural areas - more freeform

    • Many Bioblitzes - fewer people, no experts

    • Culminated last May in major Bioblitz

  • iNat 81 observes, have engaged 100 at this point

  • Engaging visitors

    • Not guided right now -

    • Checklist with prizes

    • Other ways of incentivizing

    • Have written Walk-throughs

    • iNaturalist not intuitive

    • Photography - little clickers - on-island photography with kids

    • To inspire others in the role Andrew has been playing over last few years

    • Major advantage of iNaturalist - broad

  • iNaturalist - sheer volume of data

    • Visualpedia, Nvidia? - give best guesses to start - will help improve moving observations along - observations get buried

  • Biodiversity Squamish, Lantzville Life

  • Standardizing the spreadsheet to be able to compare records

  • Big databases - GBIF, Canadensys

  • Standardized data formats - Darwin core databases

    • Getting dataset published in scientific community

    • Tools are available, haven’t had time

    • Global biodiversity information facility

    • Pantaxonomic

Interactive diagram:


  • How could there be help in structuring community engagement through technology or technological activities (e.g. QR codes on trees to identify their species)
    • One solution would be to create a sign for those who get off the ferry, many already have cameras with them.
    • Microclimate monitoring framework (arduino chip sets with sensors, where the nodes are all networked together).
  • What relationship do you have with the devs of iNaturalist
    • The program came out of a masters research project. It's an innovation of the California acadamey of sciences.
  • Do you communicate with them about improvements to their platform.
    • It is open source, and they communicate over a google group
  • Diagram of spider species
    • It was available through D3, but modified with the help of a JavaScript developer
  • How do you update the links to in the spider diagram?
    • Manually inputed using Javascript
  • Is there something you'd like to do that's just out of reach (e.g. technologically, engagement, etc. )
    • There is a particular D3 visualization (sunburst), and others that would be helpful to represent the data.
  • What is the hardest thing for people to engage with citizen science and how they can be connected to scientific research?
    • People do engage with confirming species. Similar drive to what people have when using Pokemon Go.
    • The momentum of the project is around documenting species, but not everyone is interested in this.
    • Another idea was to use algae to make art work
    • not everything has to become data in the end, should find frameworks to pair up personal goals.
  • Are there other art projects
    • There was a piñata project
  • How did you first get going?
    • Support by pillars with the community who wanted to support his undergraduate research
    • Was writing regularly in the actives page, encouraged people to explore and learn
    • Community inventories of natural areas
    • mini-bioblitzes; fewer people no experts. Culminated last May into a full BioBlitz
    • Galiano is a population of approximately 900 people
  • How do initially engage people, how do you instruct them on the process.
    • The framework before was with lists. People are already come to the island with cameras but they aren't guided. Signs would help with that.
    • Through community events.
  • Does the community model in iNaturalist work for review?
    • There are algorithms to help validate discoveries.
    • There is a movement to use visual algorithms to help pair down the classification, for example by genus.
  • Any tools to help with your own research and with others performing similar research?
    • There are a couple other communities in my region (biodiversity squamish, nanaimo?), work to standardized data so that they can more easily compare records.
    • Talking about getting the data set published in the scientific community