Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.
By Sarah Carr
A year ago in this column, I noted a shift in computing from powerful, multifunctional desktop tools to "apps" - easier-to-use, limited-functionality tools appropriate for handheld devices. I asked, "Is there an app for EBM?"
The EBM Tools Network spent the past year polling the EBM community on ways that apps could (and already do, as it turns out) support coastal and marine conservation and management. We found that the characteristics of mobile devices - from their small size to their ever-increasing functionality, including the ability to capture high-resolution images - provide many new opportunities for management.
Part 1 of this column, in the last issue of MEAM, described apps that already support field data collection and stakeholder science. Now we examine other uses:
Apps for monitoring and enforcement
Apps can help increase monitoring and enforcement effort by allowing stakeholders to report problems (e.g., sitings of invasive species or pollution) and infractions, like fishing inside an MPA. In the case of species invasions, public reporting of potential sitings - including uploads of high-resolution photos that would allow scientists to make positive identification - can facilitate a more timely and effective response. In the case of illegal fishing, rapid and anonymous reporting can help law enforcement catch perpetrators and track trends in such activity. Examples of apps for monitoring and enforcement include:
- IveGot1 (www.eddmaps.org/florida/report/index.cfm) allows users to identify and report sitings of invasive species in Florida;
- What's Invasive (www.mobilethinkers.com/2010/12/mobile-app-tracks-invasive-species) enables park visitors to document and record the exact location of invasive species within parks; and
- Marine Debris Tracker (www.marinedebris.engr.uga.edu) allows users to report trash on coastlines and in waterways. The data can be uploaded for beach cleanups.
Apps to provide easier access to data and information
In general, apps are ideally suited for providing stakeholders and practitioners with easier and more rapid access to data and information, particularly from field locations. Some examples include:
- NOAA Buoy and Tide Data (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/noaa-buoy-and-tide-data/id292148184?mt=8) and NOAA Ocean Buoys (www.appbrain.com/app/noaa-ocean-buoys/com.asburymobile.noaaoceanbuoys) provide users with real-time oceanographic data for planning maritime activities; and
- Hawai'i Tsunami Information Service (www.appbrain.com/app/hawaii-tsunami-info-service/com.noaa_psc.mobile) provides interactive tsunami evacuation zone maps and other risk and preparedness information.
Finally, while apps in general do not expand the range of analytical and visualization capabilities available for conducting EBM, they are making the existing capabilities much more readily available - both to new users and users in the field. This is occurring through mobile GIS and map solutions such as iGIS, ArcGIS Apps, Google Earth for mobile, and My Maps.
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank participants in the EBM Tools Network listserv for providing the information and sources for this article.
[Sarah Carr is coordinator for the EBM Tools Network. Learn more about EBM tools and the EBM Tools Network at www.ebmtools.org.]