Mesa County Libraries Launches Kickstarter for Colorado Wildlife App

Colorado’s Mesa County Libraries (MCL) last week launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of Wild Colorado, a mobile app that will help users identify Colorado mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles, use geolocation information to notify users what types of wildlife are likely in their vicinity, and personalize their experience by adding notes, taking photos, and sharing their sightings on social media.
Wild Colorado App My Collection ThumbnailColorado’s Mesa County Libraries (MCL) last week launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of Wild Colorado, a mobile app that will help users identify Colorado mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles; use geolocation information to notify users what types of wildlife are likely in their vicinity; and personalize their experience by adding notes, taking photos, and sharing their sightings on social media. “Colorado is a big outdoor state, and this community is really outdoorsy,” MCL Director Joseph Sanchez told LJ. “People move here because they love the outdoors—they love the mountain biking, river rafting, fly fishing, hiking—whatever it is, you’re here because it’s an outdoor place. Looking at our demographics, I know we’re serving a lot of those people as parents or as book lovers, but we weren’t doing anything directly” to offer patrons a resource that complements those activities. Although there are already apps, such as iNaturalist, that target nature lovers, Sanchez explained that “none of them are really simple and/or comprehensive for Colorado. So, in our opinion, we felt that there was a big gap there.” Sanchez said that developing an app that is specific to Colorado wildlife complements MCL’s nascent plans to add more local content to its catalog, highlighting local artists, for example, when patrons search art-related terms. “The app is part of a much broader vision, to try to start serving gaps in the information ecosystem for our patrons. Google is doing one thing really well. Apple and Amazon are serving other needs really, really well. But there are gaps in local knowledge. We’re attempting to find ways to create viable and usable local bodies of knowledge that have meaning and value for our patrons.” This app, Sanchez hopes, will also get the attention of 20- and 30-somethings who may not have visited their public library in a while. In one sign that this may be the right type of app to serve that role, MCL recently drew a crowd of young, infrequent visitors with an art exhibit devoted to custom fishing flies. “We’ve got macro images of custom flies made by local fly-tyers…. They were so beautiful that we built custom pine beetle kill frames, and printed out 18" by 24" images, and made framed shadow boxes” of the image with the custom fly. At the exhibit in May “we had about 120 people show up, which is big for our rural region. Eighty of them had never been to the library, and all of them were from that 20 to 30 something age category.” He continued, explaining that “when I push the app, [reaching that demographic is] a huge part of it. On Facebook, half the comments are from people in that age group, and we haven’t figured out how to turn them into active patrons. This app is my first tangible step to say ‘here’s something that you guys can use. It’s 21st century, it’s in your language, and you’re using the library when you use the app.” The app was developed with the Mesa County Public Library Foundation, in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which provided the database of species-level information for the app, and local photographers, who are providing images of the animals. MCL is planning to launch WildCO as a free app for Android and iOS devices in late spring/early summer 2016. Funding from the $15,000 Kickstarter campaign, which runs through December 11, will be used to help defray the cost of hiring a third-party developer. At press time, about $5,000 had been pledged. If the app is a success, Sanchez is already thinking of additional features and partnerships that could be added “connecting people with what’s happening in their area with regard to wildlife. I’m looking at all the nonprofits. I’m talking to everyone from the Sierra Club to Ducks Unlimited—hunting groups to environmental groups—and saying ‘if you have regional calendars that are based on zipcodes, and you do the calendar using either linked data or Google Calendars, I can pull that information from your calendar or your website and deliver it to patrons using this app across the state, limited by zipcode.’ Or app users could have the option to check the organizations within their region that they would like to receive push notifications from.” Since coding and development, to this point, have been subcontracted, the final product will not be open source. And, the app is, by design, focused specifically on Colorado wildlife exclusively. However, Sanchez said that he would be willing to share information regarding the project with librarians interested in designing similar apps in other states. And, as he noted, “it’s probably going to get cheaper for the developer [to replicate the app for another state]. After he’s done it once, to build something similar again should be a piece of cake. We have very consciously tried to look at how this project could be replicable and scalable for other libraries, and we’ve already talked about doing two additional versions of it ourselves. One would be for [Colorado] wildflowers, and would use artificial intelligence to [identify] wildflowers using the camera, and we’ve talked about doing the same thing for trees.”
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Charlie

Hmm.... iNaturalist is definitely not a 'commercial app'. It is an open source project that is now under the California Academy of Science. It's free for anyone to use. It's also really quite simple to use and is as comprehensive as the data you add to it (you can add lists of Colorado species or auto generate them as people add species. This sounds like a neat project except maybe a little too late as iNaturalist already exists. IMHO you should use the free and very functional existing program and app that do the exact same thing rather than asking for $15,000 to rebuild it again. But if you do end up making this, I encourage you to share any species data you collect with GBIF.

Posted : Nov 16, 2015 03:34


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