Litter, plastics in particular, is accumulating in our seas and coasts. Information and data on marine litter is essential for tackling it. The European Environment Agency has developed Marine LitterWatch mobile app to strengthen Europe’s knowledge base and thus provide support to European policy making.
Language: English / Greek / Danish
Runs offline: no
Last update: Android 16/02/2016 – iOS 20/12/2016
Website of the developer: European Environment Agency
Notes: article updated on 17/01/2017
Marine LitterWatch is an application that, based on citizen science, aims to collect data relating to the presence of litter on beaches and coastal areas of Europe in order to dictate policies for enjoy of clean beaches. Although it can be used individually, one of the objectives is that citizens are integrated into existing communities or create their own community to maximize the potential of citizen participation.
These communities are responsible for organizing those known as “events”, that can frame into two class:
- monitoring, an activity that must run regularly and take place on the same beach area or coastal area. The “community” in these cases provides a minimum structure and organization that ensures the validity of the data collected..
- clean-up, which can be ad hoc or periodic character and, apart from remove litter, is useful to create awareness about this problem. The data collected in these activities are also useful to support the assessments on the state of Europe’s coasts.
The collection of data through the mobile application is made based on a list of litter (bags, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, etc.), grouped into three categories: plastic, clothing / textiles and glass / ceramics. In the app, the volunteers enter the number of items identified. Likewise, and although the default list shows a number of elements, you can load more types of waste also coded using the “Add item” command.
The collected data are stored on a public server managed by the European Environment Agency.
In response to a recent update, users can log themselves as guests or anonymous, improving also the images used to identify different wastes.
Images: Screenshot 26/06/2015. European Environment Agency (CC BY 2.5 DK)
Marine LitterWatch is a useful application that empower citizens to fight the serious problem of waste in coastal areas. Although it is only in English and Greek (translation into other official EU languages would be desirable), it is quite easy to handle. However, there are some aspects to correct / improve, such as the fact that not work offline. Also, the location map of the beaches is confusing, possibly by repeated introduction of locations by users testing the tool. It would also be interesting to associate information about litter collection with every beach (by what has been seen, the data collected do not provide this level of detail).