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Monitoring Invasive Species – Queen Mary University London

Monitoring the damage caused to river banks by the invasive American signal crayfish

The Challenge

Queen Mary University London, along with a range of stakeholders, required an app to research erosion caused by the invasive signal crayfish. This species is now widespread within the UK. It causes many ecological problems and this app is designed to look at the damage they cause undermining river banks.

The consortium needed an app to enable partners to collect a large dataset consisting of the location and density of burrows. Also required was the ability to record:

Not only will this data enable scientists to do valuable research but it will also help to inform Environment Agency procedures.

The team had previously attempted to produce the app using other software but found it didn’t offer the functionality required.

Basic Requirements

The team needed to incorporate the ability for surveyors to:

  1. upload multiple photographs and/or a video
  2. upload .zip files to enable 30+ photos to be submitted
  3. undertake a visual assessment to support the photographs as part of the research.

The app also needs to be periodically updated, and another key requirement was that the app be able to receive updates in real-time.

Coreo gave us not only an easy-to-use interface, but also features we needed that other systems just didn't have. I managed to build a complex app with practically no referring to documentation - it's a very impressive system.

Dr Gemma Harvey Reader in Physical Geography - Queen Mary University London

The Solution

Key Features

Whilst the main part of the project centres around the collection of images from the field, it’s also important to record the environmental and location related elements of the survey. Using Coreo we found it easy to build what is quite a complicated and lengthy form. The fact that we could also enable the upload of compressed folders, as well as photos and video directly was a benefit too.

One of the things that really helped us (and our participants) is the logic you can add into forms. This makes it really easy to streamline questions so that people get guided through the complexity of a survey and only ever see parts of a survey that are relevant to them. We had problems with people feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at them before.

Because this is new research, and we are still refining the way that surveys are undertaken, we have found Coreo’s real-time update feature to be one of the most useful features to us. We can make a change to the survey in the office and field workers will get the update almost instantaneously. This has meant that we can be certain everyone is working on the latest version – something that our previous system didn’t accommodate and which led to a real headache for us.

The Results

Whilst we are still in the early stages of refining the survey methodology, we have found that the data we are able to collect with our app is exactly what we had hoped for. Feedback from the field is that people find the app intuitive and easy to use and that it’s much easier than trying to collect all the data together using the previous system of a notepad and camera.

We have a wide range of users for the app including staff from the Environment Agency, Rivers Trusts, Wildlife Trusts, various other volunteer groups, researchers, students and also interested members of the general public. The app has been a fantastic and vital tool for us, enabling us to engage with a wider array of people than before and with much greater ease.

All the data comes through to us in Coreo, and it’s such a convenient and useful system for data managers. We’re really excited about what the future holds for this research and Coreo will be underpinning that.

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