Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 05: The Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (IIITM-K) has launched a pioneering mobile app to track and gather data on the geographical distribution of flora and fauna, aimed at helping scientists and students in the fields of research and conservation.
The ‘first of its kind’ biodiversity app, BIOTA, was developed by researchers at the C V Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics at IIITM-K, which has been set up for higher education and research in the area of Information Technology. The launch version of the app: BIOTA 1.0, was released at the National Biodiversity Conference held recently in Thiruvananthapuram.
“IT applications have barely been used in ecological studies and we want to plug that gap with the introduction of BIOTA,” said project head Dr. Jaishankar R Nair. “The project takes technology to the common man for participatory research and conservation efforts.
The app gives users the option to record phyto (plant) and zoo (animal) diversity from a database provided through mobile phone photos of a species. The exact location, date and time of the uploaded pictures will be verified and flagged up on Google Maps.
“The aim is to create a geographical distribution map of each species, which can be viewed using the app. The information can also be exchanged with the National Biodiversity Database and Global Biodiversity Information Facility,” Shri Nair pointed out.
The current version of the app focuses on invasive plant species, which is a particularly rampant irritant faced by ecologists in India, and it lists lists10 common invasive species and one endemic species.
Dr. Nair said such apps can be particularly useful in the field of public health which involves large-scale collection of data from large areas. “The reporting of epidemics is still a slow process in the country. With an app such as this, a farmer who has doubts regarding the death of a hen or a duck can create a flu alert and get prompt response from authorities,” he said.
The app, currently available only on Android platform, can be downloaded from Google Playstore. An iOS version is under development. It is significant to note that the Joint Research Centre for the European Commission on science and knowledge service released an Invasive Alien Species Europe app shortly after the launch of BIOTA.
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