COBWEB, the Citizen OBservatory WEB, is a project to empower everyday people with the ability to collect environmental information using mobile devices. This collected information will then be suitable for use in research, decision making and policy formation.
Currently COBWEB is focused upon the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and is working in 4 of these areas to collect valuable information.
To do this COBWEB relies on what is known as crowdsourcing, which is information (data) collected by an undefined ‘crowd’ of people. To ensure that the quality of data collected is usable COBWEB has a flexible design which allows the creators of citizen science surveys to use a variety of quality control measures depending upon the nature of the data being collected.
During the 2015 field season we tested COBWEB by working with seven “Co-Design sub-projects” within the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve area in mid-Wales. The co-design projects have been feeding back their experience using the app as well as making suggestions for improvement.
Ysgol Bro Hyddgen & Yns-hir RSPB
The video below features two of our co-designers. The pupils at Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, the local school in Machynlleth, have been using COBWEB to develop their ICT (Information Communications Technology) skills and undertake a series of biological monitoring and habitat identification activities in the Yns-hir RSPB reserve. The RSPB at Yns-hir, also co-designers for COBWEB, have been training and working with citizens to survey vegetation in quadrats across the saltmarsh. These records are then being used as baseline data as part of the investigation of the salt marsh reversion process.
Our co—designers include:
- Snowdonia National Park Authority
- Ysgol Bro Hyddgen - a local bilingual Secondary School
- The Outward Bound Trust
- Penparcau Community Forum
- Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre
- Coetiroedd Dyfi Woodlands
The co-design process resulted in hundreds of volunteers using the COBWEB software to collect high quality environmental data. Data collected varied from monitoring dolphins in Cardigan Bay, mapping the invasive species Japanese Knotweed in Snowdonia National Park, or surveying butterflies on an urban nature reserve. Working together and using the feedback from the co-design projects, the COBWEB team has been able to develop and improve the software.