Geoff Park, Knowledge Broker,
North Central Catchment Management Authority.
Crowdsourcing is a Web 2.0 term which describes the process of having a community of people, particularly amateurs or volunteers, contribute to the collection of information, via a website. Spatial Vision has developed the Community Web Mapping Portal (CWMP), based on Google Maps, to support the crowdsourcing of map-based information, especially in the area of natural resource management.
The CWMP (available at http://cwmp.spatialvision.com.au/) allows the entry and display of point sites which record the location and details of flora and fauna sightings, pest infestations, remnant vegetation, revegetation and other or significant sites. You can also record your organisation (a Landcare group, for example) on the map and provide contact details.
In order to enter sites, users must register on the site, which is free and immediate. Unregistered users can view all sites which have been entered and query their details. The CWMP provides the ability to search for sites based on their details and also the Google Maps address search. Being based on Google Maps also means that users can view either a street map or satellite (aerial imagery) view, with the satellite view being great value in rural locations.
The CWMP also allows users to record web links for their sites, allowing links to photos, blog entries and any other relevant web information. Direct links to each site are also provided, allowing users to link to a site on the CWMP from their Blog or other web page (or email site links).
The CWMP has been trialled by the Connecting Country project in the Mount Alexander region in central Victoria. Connecting Country participants have entered more than 250 sites over the last 18 months, with similar projects looking to use the CWMP for recording their site information in the near future.
The CWMP uses the Creative Commons “CC0 Universal” licence, by which users assign their information to the public domain, allowing the CWMP information to be easily used. The CWMP also provides email links on sites to allow contact between CWMP users, encouraging the development of a community of users.
One of the early applications fo the CWMP in Connecting Country focused on an iconic box-ironbark species, the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale or Tuan. The Mount Alexander area is a stronghold for the species and its habitat requirements, good quality woodland and forest remnants, match those of a number of other significant and threatened mammals and birds. In developing a funding proposal for Tuan protection, the project gathered data from agency databases on the occurrence of the species across the area. Whilst the number of “official” records was around 20, an additional 35 records were quickly compiled from local observers on the CWMP. Together these records presented a richer picture of the distribution of the Tuan and helped strategically focus habitat protection and monitoring activities in the project. The harnessing of community knowledge and interest has been a powerful force in this instance.
Use of the CWMP with environmental blogs is proving a popular way of engaging the community in recording and sharing local knowledge. Connecting Country has developed “The Monitoring Blog” http://moncc.wordpress.com/ as a site for compiling observations on flora and fauna sightings, and phenological data such as the arrival and departure of migratory species (eg the nationally threatened Swift Parrot) and flowering times of plants such as eucalypts which provide a key source of food for many of key species in the box-ironbark ecosystem. Another popular local blog, “Natural Newstead” http://geoffpark.wordpress.com/ has been developed by Geoff Park to share stories and images of flora, fauna and landscape in the Newstead district. A key feature of both of these sites is the ability of multiple users to contribute material and share it with an interested community with the press of a button! Both sites link to the CWMP with the ability to spatially reference observations within blog posts.
Community Web Mapping Portal (CWMP)
Spatial Vision is making the CWMP available for public use and invites you have a look and consider recording information about your local area. We also invite groups or projects which would like to use the CWMP to contact us to discuss this use.