This project is about hydrology, specifically water level, runoff and soil moisture. The project investigates both the possibilities of data collection and the potential value of these collected data for hydrological predictions. The long-term goal of the project is to collect a large number of observations and thus improve the prediction of hydrological events such as drought or flooding.
Language: Spanish / English / French /German
Runs offline: partially (a connection is required to upload data and consult some locations)
Last update: Android 25/05/2018 (v. 2.2.0) – iOS 26/05/2018 (v. 2.2.0)
Website of the developer: Spotteron
CrowdWater is a project of the University of Zurich. Its objective is to gather information on the watercourses status, as well as to analyze the possibilities offered by crowdsourcing for this type of task. It is a tool that can also be used for educational and informative purposes within the framework of an environmental education programme.
User registration is essential for using the app. In addition to as an individual, you can also register as an organization or school.
The app has several options. Starting from the menu located at the bottom, you can find,
- Filter: selection by time period, category or spots sampled by the user.
- New spots: list with the most recent points entered by other users.
- Add spot: option to enter observations about watercourses status. The variables on which information can be collected are water level, soil moisture or temporary streams. You will also find descriptions for defining the different variables, as well as advanced options for measuring water velocity. Note that the image should be taken perpendicular to the water sheet, using elements such as walls or bridge piers as a reference. Once the photo is taken, the image editor allows you to overlay a level measurement gauge (see app help).
- Ranking: number of observations made by the different users.
The last icon also gives access to a side menu with different alternatives:
- See the help (About CrowdWater).
- View pending sync spots.
- View messages (e.g. notifications of app updates)
- Modify your profile.
- Settings (language, base map, request a copy of the data you provided, or delete the account).
- Play the initial tutorial.
The app also has a place search option (binoculars icon) or the possibility of entering an observation based on the user’s location.
The screenshots correspond to the Android version of the application.
Images: screenshots 03/06/2018. © CrowdWater
The video is recorded using the Android version of the application (4 min 36 sec)
Citizen collaboration, as mentioned earlier in this blog, is an activity that, in addition to providing valuable information to the scientific community, allows the involvement in the protection of natural resources. This app is based on crowdsourcing, a tool that is also used by other mobile applications, but what difference does it make to citizen science?
According to the definitions included in the study «Citizen science and crowdsourcing: creative approaches to environmental protection» (EPA, 2015), the citizen science is «a form of open collaboration where members of the public participate in the scientific process to address real-world problems in ways that include identifying research questions, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems», while crowdsourcing is « a process where individuals or organizations submit an open call for voluntary contributions from a large group of unknown individuals (“the crowd”) or, in some cases, a bounded group of trusted individuals or experts». It could therefore be determined that many citizen science projects rely on crowdsourcing to collect data.
Focusing the analysis on the app itself, CrowdWater stands out positively for its design, facilitating the description of the different variables and homogenizing the explanations offered by the volunteers. They also highlight the options for processing the data offered, being able to request a copy of the own observations or remove the user account easily from the app. Its complete help section is also useful. As aspects to be improved, it might be interesting to incorporate in the filters the possibility of making queries regarding a personalized period of time.