Tridant Itching to do Data for Good and Citizen Science

by James Wakefield
Tridant is often asked to help clients with their data analytics problems and we often work with citizen data scientists. Recently though a friend of mine, Associate Professor Craig Williams from the University of South Australia, launched a fabulous project to engage everyone to become Citizen Scientists.

Craig is an expert in mosquitoes and throughout his academic career of more than 20 years Craig has combined skills in education and communication with his research studying the interface between environmental and public health. 
Earlier this year Craig and his team setup a project on chuffed.org  to crowd fund and donate to become a ‘Mozzie Monitor’ and start trapping mosquitoes.
 
There has been a limitation to date on mosquito surveillance due to the cost, geographical distance and resources necessary but Craig and his team have now flipped this by using the general public to be Scientists and engaging them to do the collection/trapping of mosquitoes and sending photos in for Craig’s team to identify.By making the science engaging to the general Public it will lead to a whole range of benefits. Schools have got engaged and children are asking questions about Science both at school at home as they check their traps each week. By bringing a social aspect to the science through Facebook, Instagram, and twitter it means the public are chatting/photographing about their mosquitoes, the types, the locations etc. the opportunity to set traps and collect mosquitoes on a regular basis in remote regions is also a great new possibility.
 
When chatting with Craig one day, I discussed with him how best to get mozzie monitors to see their results and to get comparisons of mosquitoes across the state/country. Having worked with tableau for a number of years I suggested Tableau Public might be a great option. Tableau public is free for anyone to upload their visualisations to and is fully hosted by tableau themselves. We wanted the updates to be pretty much live as the mozzies were identified and for Mozzie Monitors (the public) to be able to see their results and feel engaged by the visualisations and comparisons to others, while also making it feel fun and fresh. We decided the best way would be for the data to be collected into google sheets and then Tableau public would refresh from the sheet as it was updated. The project is now well underway and although its winter people are already collecting and visualising their results.
 
I would encourage everyone to become a Citizen Scientist as it helps us all of us understand insects and their distribution. Please take time to view the project and visualisations here.
 
Tridant looks further to further helping Mozzie Monitors in the future and also helping citizen science. If you would like to know more about Tableau, please contact us on info@tridant.com
 

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