Smartphone apps developed at Tech to connect citizens and scientists for research

The National Science Foundation is sponsoring a project at Michigan Tech called Cyber Citizens--which is substantially more peaceful in nature than it sounds.

In fact, the Cyber Citizens project goal is to build smartphone apps and websites that connect average citizens with scientists to help acquire valuable environmental information across the world.

A team of graduate and undergrad students at Tech are led by Alex Mayer, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Robert Pastel, a professor of computer science, have worked to develop four different apps so far. They include Beach Health Monitor, which evaluates environmental factors to determine beach safety; Lichen Air Quaility, which examines lichen to detect air pollution; Mushroom Mapper, which locates and describes habitats of different mushrooms, and EthnoApp.

The last is an app for community ethnography, used to collect interviews, photos and other information that can help the research of anthropologists and archaeologists. The app allows recording in the field with a smartphone, which is already of help to Tech Ph.D. student Anna Lee Presley, who is using it to interview Paavola residents about the area's landscape over time for her research.

More applications are under development by the team, which plans to produce more each semester.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: Michigan Technological University
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