University of Technology Sydney (UTS) wanted to develop an Algae Scum Identification Resource Kit (Scum App) which would primarily be used for identifying potentially toxic freshwater algal that may be forming scums or colouring the water and then monitoring the algae status. The Scum App provides users with a dichotomous key to help with identifying the algal types, and then allows users to report sightings of algal blooms, upload photos and record the location of the bloom.
We designed, built and hosted the Scum App for UTS, working closely with Associate Professor Simon Mitrovic, a UTS Freshwater ecologist, who has been dealing with algal blooms, and their impacts, for 20 years. In 1997 Simon Mitrovic co-authored the “What Scum is that?” field guide.
The Scum App we developed leads the user through a series of Yes/No questions to identify the algal bloom easily and determine whether it may be a potentially toxic blue-green algae. The Scum App also provides educational background information on algal blooms allowing the user to gain a better understanding of the algal bloom they are reporting.
Spatial Vision developed and hosted a new web site which showcases the excellent opportunities for investing in Victoria’s agriculture and food processing industries, and provides detailed and high-quality information about Victoria’s agricultural regions and industries more generally, including an interactive map.
Highly attractive and easy to use web site which provides a wealth of information
Interactive map providing extensive information on agricultural resources, statistics and supporting infrastructure
“The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness of algal blooms and highlight the need for ongoing monitoring of NSW rivers, lakes and reservoirs.”
Associate Professor Simon MitrovicUTS Freshwater Ecologist
Although algae are a natural part of water ecosystems when conditions are right they can grow in large numbers, turning the water green or blue-green, or sometimes even red, and resulting in the formation of unsightly, and potentially toxic, floating scums. These blooms are of concern because the cyanobacteria that cause some of them can also produce toxins that affect human, stock and wildlife health.
The blooms and the scum that forms are visually unappealing which has an impact on tourism and also may result in the need for costly water treatment. Algal blooms are a serious issue for Australia’s waterways and for the communities that rely on them for their livelihoods.
UTS engaged Spatial Vision due to our Citizen Science experience with designing and developing apps which allow users to report sightings including adding a location and photos, that run on both iOS and Android devices. The Scum App educates the community about algal blooms as well as helping users to identify the algal blooms that could potentially be toxic and have a major impact on human, stock and wildlife health. The app also provides links to useful information and resources.
The apps key features include:
Climate change and increased demands for water will mean that algal blooms will likely be a feature of many freshwater systems into the future. However, with the introduction of the Algae Scum Identification App, everyday citizens can contribute to cleaning up our waterways and reducing the spread of algal blooms.
The app enables users to:
Provide information about algal blooms including photos and textual information
Identify if the bloom is toxic or harmless
Report on the harmful algal blooms
Develop a better understanding of algal blooms and how they form
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