Yorkshire BioBlitz is a suite of things aimed at biodiversity public engagement events. A BioBlitz is a concept that started in the US and has spread to the UK. The original idea was to get a lot of expert biological recorders in a place on a given day and see how many species you can record in that site over 24 hours. So the public come along and go bug hunting and bird watching and take photos and then the experts help them to identify what they’ve seen.
The Yorkshire BioBlitz tool-kit is about recording those events. The central point is a WordPress.com blog site. Linked to that we have a Flickr group for people to share photos and a Facebook page and Twitter account. These are all linked together via the various build in sharing and publication links. The aim for us was to be able to post content once and engage the widest possible audience. So if an interesting photo gets added to the Flickr group we can share that as a post on WordPress and have that post automatically publicized via the Facebook page and Twitter account.
In addition to the social media aspects, Yorkshire BioBlitz is about recording what happens at the event so there is also a bespoke database (based on Second Site – see other work page). People can interact with the database in different ways:
At the hub of the event we can generate stats online using Google Charts to make interactive displays. We can show the number of species and records being submitted over time, pie charts of taxonomy (with taxonomy information retrieved from Encyclopedia of Life) and graphs of the biggest contributors or areas.
The central site both enables us to see what data is coming in and allows contributors to enter data directly using a couple of different interfaces. The simplest being a bingo form of commonly found species displayed as a number of photos drawn live from non-commercially licensed Flickr content tagged with the full Latin species name. If someone has gone to the effort to tag their photo with the full Latin species name on Flickr you can be reasonably confident it’s correct but species are not always the focus of the photo and some are inevitably incorrectly tagged so the user is presented with a number of alternative images as thumbnails.
In the case of the recording forms, QR codes are used to plot the data on the map. A QR code badge is created for each recording zone with the grid reference encoded into the QR code. This means contributors can scan a badge near where they saw the species and automatically submit their data with a valid grid reference.
We also produce a species list which links to our own collated species account pages which draw data again from Encyclopedia of Life and Flickr but also from NBN Gateway.