If you want people to volunteer to do something, you have to make it as easy as you can. When Zoological Society of London (ZSL) approached us to help them simplify their bat monitoring system, we knew that it had to be a mobile app. Plus it needed a clever web portal that could ensure accurate data was transferred.
Bats are a great indicator of the health of wider ecosystems, so monitoring bat numbers plays a vital role in wildlife conservation. ZSL launched their iBats project to help them to observe fluctuating populations of bats around the world. Groups of volunteers used equipment to record bat sounds for the project and generate long-term data on changes to bat populations. ZSL contacted us because they had around 700 volunteer bat-trackers using iBats but needed a way to make it easier for them to collect and identify the noises. And they also wanted to encourage more volunteers to get involved.
For the iBats project to be a success it needed to gather plenty of data. We know that if you’re asking a volunteer to input data, you have to make it easy for them. With that in mind, we created a user-friendly app and web portal. The app could be used on an iPhone or android phone and replaced the heavy recording equipment previously required. Once the sound was recorded on a phone it could then be uploaded to the iBats web portal, which used special software that could identify over 900 different bat sounds and made it as easy as possible for volunteers to report their findings.
With over 3,000 downloads for the app in just one day this project has attracted significant interest. The positive response from both scientists and volunteers gave ZSL a great business case for expanding the project in ways they hadn’t previously thought about. The project’s success has helped to demonstrate that using technology is the key to the future of conservation.
"Whilst we knew that a project of this type had not been done before, we were still shocked at the level of interest it has attracted. Not only have we had numerous requests from biodiversity scientists wanting to find out more about the project, but the app itself has also been a runaway success."
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