Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


iPhone App Will Help Rescue Oiled Gulf Coast Wildlife

Starting today, iPhone users who come upon oiled birds and other wildlife in the Gulf Coast region can immediately transmit the location and a photo to animal rescue networks using a free new iPhone app, MoGO, for Mobile Gulf Observatory. It was developed by four University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers to make it easier for the public to help save wildlife exposed to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the UMass Amherst researchers hope the MoGO app will draw on the large network of “citizen scientists” who are as heartbroken as they are to witness the disaster for marine life and who are actively looking for ways to help save wildlife along the 14,000 miles of northern Gulf coastline.

Although rescue networks are in place and busy saving stranded wildlife, the task is enormous and trained staff too few. They just don’t have the people-power to cover all the territory from Louisiana to Florida. With over 400 wildlife species and 35 national wildlife refuges at risk, the Gulf is in crisis from the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

“That’s where citizen science comes in,” says UMass Amherst wildlife biologist Curt Griffin. As he explains, “The new app allows anyone who finds an oiled animal to be linked automatically by the phone to the Wildlife Hotline and also to contribute photos of the stranded animal and its GPS location coordinates to a database here on campus.”

Each report will alert wildlife stranding networks to deploy experts to rescue live animals for clean-up and medical treatment. Photos of oiled wildlife plus the GPS location will also be uploaded to MoGO’s comprehensive database for review by wildlife and fisheries experts using a Web browser. Users are also encouraged to upload their photos of dead marine and coastal wildlife, tar balls on beaches, oil slicks on water and oiled coastal habitats to the MoGO database.

The idea for the new app came to Charlie Schweik, associate director of the National Center for Digital Government, as he listened to yet another depressing story about the Gulf oil spill. Already working on invasive species mapping with computer scientist Deepak Ganesan, an expert in mobile phone and sensor systems, Schweik thought that experience might prove useful for inventorying damage in the Gulf. Smartphones such as the iPhone have several sensors including camera, GPS, audio and video, which can provide valuable data for such an application.

Schweik also turned to Griffin and Andy Danylchuk, a fisheries ecologist, his colleagues in UMass Amherst’s natural resources conservation department, to connect to the wildlife and fisheries community. Griffin and Danylchuk agreed that a mobile phone app in the hands of an army of “citizen scientists” would enhance recovery efforts by wildlife stranding networks. It could also increase the efficiency of state and federal efforts to monitor, assess and respond to the damage caused by the spill and engage the public to partner with natural resources agencies and researchers.

As Danylchuk points out, “The MoGO public database will help guide restoration efforts of vital coastal and marine habitats, and be used by scientists world-wide to assess the ecological impacts of the spill on the Gulf. The public database also allows scientists outside the Gulf region to participate in the assessment.”

The app takes advantage of “mobile crowdsourcing,” that is, the power of smart personal mobile devices to provide thousands of eyes and ears on the ground. Ganesan’s research group has designed a software framework called “mCrowd,” which simplifies the usual weeks- to months-long process of developing a new mobile crowdsourcing app. “It provides easy-to-use templates that can be tailored to a new application,” Ganesan explains. His mCrowd technology allowed the UMass Amherst team to create the MoGO app and infrastructure in a little more than a week.

Whether the project succeeds now rests on how well the word gets out to the public in the Gulf region, the researchers note. “Any person, on land or at sea, wishing to use the free app for their iPhone can go to for more information on how to get it on their iPhone,” Schweik says.

Curt Griffin | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>