The CSMON-LIFE project aims at contributing to a new strategic approach, by enlarging and improving the knowledge base for biodiversity policies in Italy, one of the EU countries with the highest biodiversity. This goal will be achieved by involving citizens in data collection and validation, thus accelerating the progress towards the objectives of the European 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, and contributing to the formation of new “green” jobs.
Runs offline: partially
Last update: Android 24/06/2016 – iOS 21/11/2015
Notes: article updated on 26/06/2016
CSMON-LIFE is a mobile application designed to monitor the biodiversity in the Italian regions of Lazio and Puglia in collaboration with the inhabitants through citizen science. This project is one of 47 selected Italian initiatives in the call for Life Program 2013.
This procedure of systematic monitoring enhances the scientific knowledge regards to how different elements of nature respond to threats such as the loss of biodiversity due to the presence of invasive species, the effects of climate change, conservation of endangered species or the impact of humans on the environment.
The first requirement to collaborate recording your discoveries through CSMON-LIFE is to register as a user. To complete this step, you must fill out a form with your name, email address, year of birth and password. The menu (upper left corner), in addition to information about the app and various extras (access profile, contact, project partners, registration, etc.), includes the following tools for reporting sightings:
- Campagne di segnalazione (campaign selection): this option has changed in relation with the attached video because in the current version the classes have been expanded (amphibians, crustaceans, insects, lichens, mammals, jellyfish, plants, etc.). The selection of the class is the first step to upload sightings. If this characteristic is unknown, you can select the “Chiedilo all’esperto” option (ask the expert), who will determine the right class.
- Invia segnalazione (send report): depending on the selected class in the previous step, a series of images for the identification of animal, plant, lichen, etc., are displayed. Once recognized the species, clicking on the image you can access the registration form. This is very simple, requiring only a brief description and a photograph of the specimen. The coordinates are captured directly from the device. If you do not want your name to appear on the map that will represent sightings, you can activate the option of anonymous register.
- Mie segnalazioni (my discoveries), where are stored all the records that you’ve made.
All sightings are verified by an expert team before inclusion in the database. The last update for Android devices includes the common names of the species.
Images: Screenshots 28/09/2015 ©CSMON-LIFE
CSMON-LIFE is an example of the notoriety that citizen science projects are gaining in recent times. Although these initiatives can imply doubts regarding to data quality or policy position of the volunteers who collect data, as Nature journal pointed out last August, more and more studies reinforce the validity of these projects. The importance of these dynamics could be observed on 23 September in a chat on Twitter where the use of mobile applications in projects of this type was discussed (you can see a summary in this Storify made by SciStarter). Among mentioned benefits were the flexibility offered by these tools and the ability to rediscover nature. However, one disadvantage indicated in the chat was the high costs of developing mobile applications, hindering the creation of these tools.
Focusing the analysis on CSMON-LIFE application, it should be mentioned its ease of operation. With the last update, the app can be used in offline mode. It would be desirable to include more photographs of the different species to identify easily the different stages of growth of the specimens or possible differences between sexes. It would also be interesting to visualize in the application a map showing the sampled areas in order to optimize efforts.