A mobile phone application will help professional and “citizen” scientists collect and analyse data from “in the field”, anywhere in the world.
The EpiCollect software collates data from certain mobiles – on topics such as disease spread or the occurrence of rare species – in a web-based database.
The data is statistically analysed and plotted on maps that are instantly available to those same phones.
The approach is outlined in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
The software has been developed for so-called smartphones that run Google’s Android open-source operating system.
Researchers can report back to the EpiCollect database with results from experiments they do in the field, and “citizen scientists” can send back photos or videos of certain species from their own backyards.
The phones’ GPS system automatically logs users’ locations, and the data is then plotted by location using Google Maps. Then anyone can access the database online, or from their phone.
There have been many research projects in the past that make use of phones’ instant access and GPS functionality.
However, lead researcher on the project David Aanensen of Imperial College London said that the full integration into a central and widely-accessible database makes EpiCollect particularly useful.