woensdag 17 juni 2009

Power of cybertracker


With Cybertracker a South African based application initiated by Louis Liebenberg and progammed by Justin Steventon ( http://www.cybertracker.org/) I am keeping track of the species I encounter and I am also using a similar program called WnPda which is connected to the waarneming.nl database ( http://www.waarneming.nl ).

The difference between the two is that Cybertracker is a data capture tool that is completely customizable by the user. Wnpda is a data capture tool developed by Alex Kwak here in the Netherlands to capture field data without the need of pencil and paper and with a mobile internet connection it is even possible to access google maps and upload the data in the field.

The proliferation of GPS tools have brought great possibilities even for moderate prizes. I am using an ipaq 6915 that is also a great scheduler and mobile phone, which I bought for 70 euro here on the second hand market.

What we are seeing on the screen here are patterns of small dots called tracks and big dots which are representing the sightings. The tracks are automatically taken readings of the postion of the data capturer. In this case the fishing was static, but for the data capture of amphibians and reptiles it is a great tool, because it allows for data analysis of the effort (distance covered and time spent). For that kind of surveys the GPS data are more valuable too, because reptiles are seldom evenly dispersed and it is hard to get the map data right in the field when there are not many terrain features and even harder to accurately remember where a particular sighting was. Because of the ease of capture with a pda also the more commons species will be recorded accurately and completely which can provide valuable data on ecological changes.

Fish sightings also have their difficulties in capturing often there are a lot of individuals of not always expected species and also there is a great variation in lenghth. I put in some filters so the typical riverine species pop up when you are fishing in a river and so forth.

On the top right there is a window displaying the query, which is a part of a database defined by certain constraints, in this case the species has to be a "Witvingrondel" (White finned gudgeon).

As you can see I am using Picasa for the handling of the pictures and even for the postings of this blog. It is a great tool for handling pictures and it has about everything I wish except for a hierarchy in the tagging of pictures. For example I would like to tag this picture as a "white finned gudgeon", but I would like it to be automatically tagged then as a cyprinid, a teleost etc.

This can be done in Lightroom, but lately I haven't been using that much because the lightroom databases get very slow when containing too many pictures. It is however possible to use Lightroom for tagging the pictures, making a new database every 6 months or so and Picasa can use the tags in a search later. The georeferencing tools of picasa are great. It is possible to tag pictures later when you are home using Google Earth button.

It is also possible when using the Waarneming.nl tool or cybertracker to tag the pictures automatically with programs like JetPhotoStudio comparing the time of the track point with that of the time the picture was taken. In this manner it is possible to feed the program with a gps track (gpx format) and with a picture folder. The pictures will then get a georeference tag that adds the Longitude and the Latitude to the Exif of the picture. (The Exif is a part of the jpeg file containing all kinds of data varying from time and date the picturee was taken,camera data to copyright, contact address etc.) (http://www.jetphotosoft.com/web/manual/gps_win.html )

Using cybertracker this is pretty hard to do and requirers a script to change the relevant data table into a gpx file. On the other hand Cybertracker allows you to use a touch screen pda with GPS and camera directly to add a picture to a sighting.

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