Testing a new biosecurity reporting app
A new app is being trialed to test a different way of reporting suspected biosecurity pests in New Zealand.
The Find-A-Pest app allows users to report potential biosecurity threats quickly with their smart phone by sending a photo and GPS location. The reports are sent to a community of knowledgeable people from primary industries, iNaturalist NZ (a web-based citizen science platform) and science organisations for identification. The trial will evaluate the effectiveness of the app as a biosecurity reporting tool in different contexts.
App testing will be carried out by selected case study groups in Northland, Auckland, and Southland with a focus on weeds, and nationally via kiwifruit industry and planted forestry bodies (KVH and the Forest Owners Association) for a broader range of pests. Testing will take place until April 2019.
App spokesperson Dr Stephen Pawson of Scion said case studies have been selected that will put the app in the hands of the people walking New Zealand’s orchards, forests and fields.
“We’ve also included urban organisations, as research shows most pests arrive via transport hubs such as ports, which are located close to urban centres.”
“The app uses a simple, online reporting process. Users can easily submit photos, GPS location and any additional commentary from their phone.”
Functionality includes offline use for uploading when back in range of wifi or mobile reception, factsheets to help users learn what pests to look out for and Te Reo Maori translations of key information.
Reported data will add to a database of information about existing and new pests in New Zealand. Unless the suspected pest is considered new to New Zealand, app users should not expect biosecurity officers to contact them about the reported pest.
The app does not replace Biosecurity New Zealand’s exotic pests and diseases hotline (0800 80 99 66), which should be used as normal to report any suspected exotic pests.
The ‘Find-A-Pest’ smartphone app trial is a Biological Heritage National Science Challenge research project led by Scion and Lincoln University with support from Biosecurity New Zealand (part of Ministry for Primary Industries), KVH, Zespri, the Forest Owners Association, Envirolink, Te Tira Whakamataki, and iNaturalist NZ.
The future of the app will be determined by the results from across the testing groups. While success of the trial will be measured through the group testing, anyone can download the app for free from the App store or Google Play store and start reporting any suspicious insects, plants or plant diseases they see.