“Nebraska Wetlands” Mobile App: Empower Mobile Technology and Citizen Science for Nebraska Wetland Conservation

“Nebraska Wetlands” Mobile App: Empower Mobile Technology and Citizen Science for Nebraska Wetland Conservation

By Kerry McCulloug...

October 5, 2015

NE Wetland App

There’s an app for that, seems to be the answer to numerous problems in this high-tech evolving world, and the College of Architecture is paving its own way in the smart phone app world.

Recently the College of Architecture’s Community and Regional Planning (CRP) program has developed a phone app called “Nebraska Wetlands” to engage citizen participation in wetland conservation. This app can be downloaded through Apple Store for iOS phones and Google Play for Android phones.

The overall goal of this project is to develop interactive mobile devices which will allow stakeholders and citizens to report the real-time observation information to wetland managers. Using this mobile app, wetland managers, researchers and general citizens can easily view Nebraska Wetland program information and educational materials.  With the touch of a button, users will have access to information such as the Nebraska Wetland plant encyclopedia, National Wetland Inventory map and the Soil Survey Geographic database. In addition, users can report information like messages, photos, and videos for wetland monitoring and assessment, wetland management and restoration, and wetland permitting and mitigation.

This app was developed collaboratively by Professors Zhenghong Tang from the Community and Regional Planning program and Hongfeng Yu with UNL’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering with the assistance of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant. Two graduate students, Yanfu Zhou and Jieting Wu, were the developers of this app.  Outside the University, Ted LaGranage and Randy Stutheit, from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, have also been invaluable project partners offering guidance and project consultation.

“The major information channel used by younger generations is dramatically shifting to GPS-enabled mobile devices, this critical time also represents a great opportunity to transfer big environmental datasets to mobile platforms,” Dr. Zhenghong Tang commented.

This mobile apps helps realize the potential of involving the lay person in the science of wetland protection. The app platform will be a long-term and collaborative venture where both stakeholders and citizens gather and share wetland observations at multiple geographic scales over time.   The new app is now available with 1,000 users to-date and is an addition to previous apps, “My Rain Garden” and “My Rain Barrel,” developed by Dr. Zhenghong Tang and his colleagues.  Check them out!