June 15, 2010
UMass Develops New iPhone App to Help Save Gulf Wildlife
Thanks to a team of UMass researchers, iPhone users who come upon oiled birds and other wildlife in the Gulf Coast region can immediately transmit the location and a photo to animal rescue networks using a free new iPhone app, MoGO, for Mobile Gulf Observatory. The idea for the new app came to Charlie Schweik, associate director of the National Center for Digital Government, part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Already working on invasive species mapping with computer scientist Deepak Ganesan, an expert in mobile phone and sensor systems, Schweik thought that experience might prove useful for inventorying damage in the Gulf.
With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the UMass Amherst team hopes the MoGO app will draw on the large network of “citizen scientists” who witness the disaster for marine life and who are actively looking for ways to help save wildlife along the 14,000 miles of northern Gulf coastline. UMass Amherst wildlife biologist Curt Griffin says the new app allows anyone who finds an oiled animal to be linked automatically by the phone to the Wildlife Hotline and also to contribute photos of the stranded animal and its GPS location coordinates to a database on campus. Andy Danylchuk, natural resources conservation, is also a part of the team.