Saturday, June 23, 2012

NatureWatch NZ is coming!

We've been hard at work here at NZBRN over the past year working on our replacement to our current web bio-recording system. We've joined the open-source iNaturalist project and have been busy optimising the system for New Zealand and adding on legacy NZBRN features you've come to depend on. It's looking really good and we are on track to launch in August. Here's a quick peak at the new features we'll be introducing.

First, a brand new and shiny system deserves a shiny new name. You won't need to be NZBRNing on your next tramp. Now you can NatureWatch.
NatureWatch NZ
Built by NZBRN | powered by iNaturalist
We decided on NatureWatch NZ after an extensive and surprisingly emotive debate and vote amongst a selection of 85 of our keenest users and supporters (thanks everyone!). Initial suggestions playing on our new iNaturalist connections, kiwiNaturalist and nzNaturalist, were shot down by people concerned they'd be obligated to do their nature watching without any clothes.

So what will the new system be able to do for you? Check out these great new features, baked right into the iNaturalist DNA by the clever iNaturalist developers.
  • Photo uploads! Upload to NatureWatch NZ directly or connect to us from your Flickr or Picasa web galleries.
  • "ID please"! Flag you observations with photos as ID please and other NatureWatch users will suggest identifications.
  • Challenge and agree with IDs! Crowd-sourcing at its best, NatureWatch NZ lets everyone correct the errors they see in each others observations.
  • Comment on observations! Do you want to know how someone got that amazing photo? Or how they got so close to such an elusive animal? Start up a conversation.
  • Follow other users! If you discover another NatureWatch NZ user making interesting observations in your area, or of species you're really interested in, you can follow them to automatically see all of their new observations.
  • Join and create projects! Get together with like minded people in a project. It could be your community restoration group. It could be your school nature watch project. It could be fans of jumping spiders.
  • Life lists, and species lists per place! You can easily use NatureWatch NZ to view a list of all the species you've recorded. You can also browse places and see a list of all the species found there. If NatureWatch NZ doesn't have the place you want, you can make it by drawing a polygon on our map.
  • iPhone and Android apps! Because, seriously, who carries a computer out into the wild. If you've got a smart phone in your pocket, add your observations on the spot, whether you're online or offline.
NatureWatch NZ

You can pop on over to iNaturalist and get an idea of what NatureWatch NZ will offer. But we'll also do more than that. We're busy at the moment getting NatureWatch NZ hooked up to the about-to-be-launched New Zealand Organisms Register, so you'll be able to record an observation of any species in New Zealand, be it a silvereye or a starfish. Plus we're making it easier for you to record more details about your observations, like what species it's eating. And we're working on a list of refinements and new features that we'll continue to release over the next 12 months after NatureWatch NZ is available.

We're all very excited. This is everything we wanted when NZBRN started in 2005, and a whole lot more.

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