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Forest researcher Scion scopes apps for crowd-sourcing biosecurity

Forest researcher Scion scopes apps for crowd-sourcing biosecurity

Apps will help create a community to fight new and emerging biosecurity threats

Myrtle rust is but one threat to New Zealand's bio-security

Myrtle rust is but one threat to New Zealand's bio-security

"Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility," says research institute Scion as it seeks to create a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people.

Forest specialist Scion is scoping the development of smart phone apps for crowd-sourced bio-security monitoring and threat reporting.

Early detection is vital to the successful eradication of newly established species, Scion said while seeking app interest from developers.

Public surveillance is an important component of the surveillance system. People should report threats via Biosecurity New Zealand’s "0800" Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline (0800809966).

The new project, however, will help Biosecurity NZ research complementary channels for reporting observations directly via mobile iOS and Android phone applications.

"The advantage of a digital reporting channel is the ability to create a community of users that are committed to the bio-security of New Zealand," Scion said. "Hence, the tool wants to create a dialogue with users using alerts, news, and commentary that builds rapport amongst people with a common interest of protecting New Zealand."

Building a community will eventually provide a access to a group of like-minded people that can be called on in the event of an emergency where skilled observers are required.

Scion released one app last year to help deal with the outbreak of the myrtle rust fungal tree disease.

"The project aligns strongly with Biosecurity 2025, the ten year strategy of Biosecurity New Zealand," Scion said.

Strategic direction one of that strategy calls for “a bio-security team of 4.7 million”, strategic direction two “a tool box for tomorrow” and strategic direction three “smart, free-flowing information”.

The project is a partnership between the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, Biosecurity, DOC, regional councils and with major New Zealand primary sector players such as Forestry, Kiwifruit, AvocadoNZ, Apiculture, Dairy, Beef and Lamb, NZ Wine, HortNZ and Apples and Pears NZ, ApiNZ and withy Maori via Whakatu Incorporation and Te Tira Whakamataki (the Maori Biosecurity Network).


"Hence, the successful contractor has the opportunity to showcase their design and ICT skills to a wide audience of potential future clients."

A set of app criteria has been developed from a stakeholder workshop to guide development. This includes a preference for a camera based system with integrated pest information and the ability to function when network coverage is limited.

Potential vendors should consider the potential of a Progressive Web Applications (PWA) as an alternative solution to native phone apps, Scion advises.

"A PWA may present a strong, flexible, environment for future product development," Scion adds. "We are aware that there are currently limitations to push notification with PWAs but potential vendors may know of solutions to these issues."


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