myObservatory is first and foremost an environmental information management system. Originally designed for agricultural use, it’s useful with virtually any type of data. It does this by combining Geographic Information System (GIS) tools with data management and visualization tools.
Price: free for single users and NGO. Premium option from $50/month (check here the options)
Language: English (the web app has the possibility of an automated translation)
Runs offline: yes
Last update: Android 22/07/2016 (v. 3.32) – iOS 16/10/2016 (v. 4.6)
Website of the developer: WebH2O
Notes: article updated on 08/11/2016
myObservatory is a solution for the data acquisition that shares features with the geographic information systems (GIS), although the learning curve and the operational resources required are lower than in the mentioned software.
The main management functions (creating templates, users, etc.) are done through the web application. The mobile apps are aimed at gathering information in the field, because can be used offline (data are later synchronized).
The platform allows the work with structured data through the “Upload data” option, admitting numerous file formats (*.xls, *.csv, *.kml, *.shp, etc.). The availability and complexity (number of records allowed) vary according to the selected payment plan (i.e., the option to load raster files, for example, is only available on “Professional” and “Premium” plans). myObservatory also has an option to create templates on the basis of which to make the data acquisition (the platform has pre-designed templates that can serve as a starting point). The information can be later displayed in the form of graphs, which can disclose the possible existence of patterns in the monitored variables.
It similarly allows the delimitation on a map of polygons, lines or points to connect a database, having also a series of links to WMS servers that allow access to external data (you can add your own WMS). The maps can be exported to a georeferenced PDF file.
In “Professional” and “Premium” versions, the application supports multiple users with different roles (administrator, data manager, data collector, etc.). This feature enables to perform a curating work of the collected data, validating the information collected by volunteers (for example, a citizen science project) or rejecting it in order to maintain a minimum level of quality.
This application can also be connected with sensors for a continuous monitoring.
Images: Screenshots 07/03/2016 © WebH2O
The data acquisition and its later analysis and interpretation has become a fundamental work in the monitoring of environmental variables. There are numerous web and mobile applications to perform these tasks, some of which have been analyzed in this web, as in the case of Magpi. However, myObservatory goes a step further, integrating the possibility of working with simple maps that incorporate utilities such as measurements, calculation of surfaces, etc., features that are typical of geographic information systems. Although this application is oriented to the agricultural sector (highly recommended read how Peter Traverse, farmer and entrepreneur, uses this tool), it can be used in many fields such as citizen science, environmental monitoring, education, etc. In fact, there are many institutions and initiatives that are using myObservatory, such as ProjetoRios in Portugal or the analysis about the situation of the Natuf aquifer, in Ramallah (Palestine).
Regarding the app itself, it should be noted the profuse help that the platform has available, that sometimes is even a little overwhelming, with numerous videos, PDF files, etc. However, it would be necessary to improve the search by keywords that offers the tool itself through the “Search” option.