An ARDC case study

Citizen scientists are helping provide essential geological information through a cost saving platform

  • The problem: A collection of irreplaceable geological information was inaccessible to those who needed it and under threat of disintegration
  • The approach: Using a crowdsourcing platform to allow volunteers to retrieve, document and make the information easily available
  • The outcome: Nearly 100,000 slides have now been digitised and are freely available

The problem: A collection of irreplaceable geological information was inaccessible to those who needed it and under threat of disintegration

The cost of making the information available and safeguarding its future was prohibitive — an estimated $100 million.

Geoscience Australia has accumulated more than 250,000 slides which include handwritten entries from extensive mapping programs and scientific expeditions.

The information is useful for geological surveying and also plays a valuable role in calibrating remote sensing data from satellites, drones and other surveying methods.

Because the slides were created and stored in the pre-digital era, this valuable data was both invisible and inaccessible.

And the clock was ticking on their future due to threats from physical deterioration.

The approach: Using a crowdsourcing platform to allow volunteers to retrieve, document and make the information easily available

An innovative crowdsourcing platform, which was developed by the Australian Museum, was called into play to help solve the problem. The platform, called DigiVol, is hosted and sustained by the Atlas of Living Australia.

DigiVol allows an army of volunteer citizen scientists who don’t have special research or data skills to input an array of information, from field notebooks to photographs, into digitally accessible data.

 research team, which included an ARDC data management expert, used the platform to develop a user-friendly geoscience project. This allowed volunteers to help transcribe thousands of GA’s handwritten entries into usable data. 

The outcome: Nearly 100,000 slides have now been digitised and are freely available

Golden hill and earth

The data-driven system has been widely adopted within Queensland’s mango industry, providing farmers with a more accurate, efficient and cost-effective way of managing their mango production.

Farmers now can better estimate the size of their crops and the best time for harvesting, allowing them to employ the optimal number of pickers and packers at the optimal time. Consumers benefit from having better mangoes.

Farm performance has increased by more than 40 per cent for some mango farmers.

The project’s success laid the foundation for further improvements for mango farmers. The research team has now developed an automatic fruit harvester, based on the data services and technology running the Fruitmaps system.

The prototype takes only five seconds to harvest a mango.

Fruit growers in Queensland have described the new data-drive technology as a game changer.

“The end goal is to save costs and improve productivity on the farm, while driving consumer demand by ensuring a top-quality eating experience every time,” one farmer said.

“Knowing how much fruit is in that block, knowing when it’s going to be mature and knowing the size of the fruit, means we can schedule our workforce, order the right number of cartons and the size of the inserts going into those cartons – this could be a real game changer, not only for our farm but for the entire industry.”

 

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