Mapping biodiversity

A screen shot of the pictures of the plants listed in the BIOTA 0.1 app

Published: 13th April 2017 02:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2017 06:22 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management - Kerala (IIITM-K) based in the capital has launched a pioneering mobile app to track and gather data on the geographical distribution of flora and fauna. The app aims at helping scientists and students in the fields of research and conservation.

The ‘first of its kind’ biodiversity app, BIOTA, was developed by researchers at the C V Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics at IIITM-K, which has been set up for higher education and research in the area of Information Technology. The launch version of the app: BIOTA 1.0, was released at the National Biodiversity Conference held recently in the capital. “IT applications have barely been used in ecological studies and we want to plug that gap with the introduction of BIOTA,” said project head Jaishankar R Nair. “The project takes technology to the common man for participatory research and conservation efforts.”

The app gives users the option to record phyto (plant) and zoo (animal) diversity from a database provided through mobile phone photos of a species. The exact location, date and time of the uploaded pictures will be verified and flagged up on Google Maps.
“The aim is to create a geographical distribution map of each species, which can be viewed using the app. The information can also be exchanged with the National Biodiversity Database and Global Biodiversity Information Facility,” Nair pointed out.

The current version of the app focuses on invasive plant species.
Nair said such apps can be particularly useful in the field of public health which involves large-scale collection of data from large areas. “The reporting of epidemics is still a slow process in the country. With an app such as this, a farmer who has doubts regarding the death of a hen or a duck can create a flu alert and get prompt response from authorities,” he said.
The app, currently available only on Android platform, can be downloaded from Google Playstore. An iOS version is under development.

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