FieldKit Citizen Science in the Amazon

Latest update December 15, 2018 Started on November 1, 2017
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We are supporting an ambitious citizen science effort throughout the Amazon basin through low cost conservation technologies that will allow the communities to monitor changes to their environment and explore.

November 1, 2017
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Preparation

As the backbone of the deployed sensors, we are using FieldKit. FieldKit is an open-source software and hardware platform that allows individuals and organizations to collect and share field-based research data, and to tell stories through interactive visualizations. This includes:


  • FieldKit Hardware: Microcontroller based open source sensor kits, equipped with SD card slot, GPS, wifi, and sensor-to-sensor radios. Conservify has developed sensor kits for water quality, weather, and flood dynamics. Future modules include air quality, updated weather, camera traps, acoustics, agricultural runoff, geophones/accelerometers, etc. The hardware architecture and code is open source so additional sensor modules can be adapted or developed by anyone anywhere. We are also building an online comprehensive open sensor library, including all the physics, code, designs, tutorials, and examples of different sensors for environmental monitoring. For this project, we plan to build FieldKit sensor platforms that can be attached to an OpenROV Trident.
  • FieldKit.org Website: Modular database software platform for collection, storage, visualization, and sharing of research data using Google’s Go language, Facebook’s React, standardized APIs, GeoJSON data frameworks. Simplified installation process that provides users with a fully functioning system that includes a public (or private) API, a map-based front-end, and a configuration interface. A plug-in architecture allows users to extend the core functionality to meet specific project needs. This follows the Wordpress model, where users could download the files and host on their own server or host on FieldKit.org.
  • FieldKit App: Android/iOS app (in React Native) that connects to the FieldKit.org instance and allows for sensor configuration, population of custom forms, sensor data download, and collection of photos, videos, and audio recordings from the field.
  • FieldKit Naturalist: As a collaboration with the National Geographic Society, this is a handheld unit that gathers high fidelity environmental metadata (temp, humidity, light level, noise level, dew point, altitude, etc.) as the student/scientist/explorer is walking around. Useful in things like BioBlitzes or when pairing with iNaturalist/Foldscope, so that discrete environmental readings can be tied to the observations. We plan to carry these out on our trips in the field.
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Expedition Background

Over the next year we will be visiting the Amazon basin to deploy conservation technologies to support citizen science efforts that are taking place in five different countries. The work is part of a larger effort called Ciencia Ciudadana para la Amazonía which, as stated on their website, "utilizes a citizen science approach to generate information about fish and water at a basin-wide scale, and to engage citizen scientists as informed, empowered stakeholders for the sustainable management of fisheries and the conservation of wetlands." Other partners include the Wildlife Conservation Society, Florida International University, Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, and many more. While the main focus of the project focuses on the using citizen science to build a better understanding of the science and freshwater fishes in the Amazon Basin, the partners are working hard to engage the indigenous communities in every implementation so that there is a deeper ownership of this effort among those who call the Amazon their home.


Conservify was brought in to leverage our open source sensor development work, which we call FieldKit, to provide water quality, weather, and flood dynamics information around each partner implementation. This OpenExplorer expedition will outline the journey around that technology development and how we will use other conservation technologies (like the OpenROV trident) to explore and inform our sensor deployments in areas that can be dramatically different in their needs.

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