The way we do science is changing rapidly, as social media, gaming and using crowds to solve problems changes who can take part and how they can participate. For centuries, crowds have been used to gather data about the natural world, from annual surveys of birds to monitoring butterfly migrations, but in order to understand global patterns of biodiversity change, we need data at a much larger scale. Getting these data is a tall order — impossible without harnessing a deeper reserve of people power.
Additionally, the power of the crowd to analyse and interpret these large datasets is becoming increasingly important. In many cases, computational tools and techniques are innapropriate or unable to perform complex tasks that people find straightforward.
Within the Technology for Nature Centre, we have a number of projects both collecting data from the crowd and using the crowd to interpret complex datasets, from open access identification of animals in global camera trap data, to volunteers collecting ultrasonic recordings across continents to monitor species populations.