Local Government Partners :: ACT Government, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional CouncilSupported by :: Australian Native Plants Society (ANPS) Canberra Region, Gearys Gap/Wamboin Landcare Group

Regular platform update

 23 Feb 2021

Hi All,

I just wanted to provide a brief update on what's happening with the platform.

Continued improvements - platform is becoming very stable

Over the past few weeks we have continued to deliver a few new improvements by way of new features, improvement of existing features and fixing of several bugs.

I have to say that we are seeing less and less errors, less and less user support enquiries and there is a general sense that the platform overall is really starting to hum along now. I want to thank our team for their continued, sustained efforts up against all odds to continue to chip away at this work often late at night and right through the weekend while balancing their other full time work and family commitments.

Optimised export functionality

The EXPORT function is being heavily optimised to cater for exporting very large amounts of data much more quickly. Export functionality will also be expanded to work for surveys and will include all values captured via custom attributes (E.g. Nesting Site = true).

New icons

You have likely noticed a new set of much more detailed and higher quality plant and animal icons appearing around the platform. These scale much more cleanly on different sized devices and is another thing we've wanted to do for a very long time. Well it's finally done thanks to our graphic designer, Sasa, and it's a very good feeling to see the new icons in action.

Global taxonomy and onboarding of additional regions

My main focus going forward now is to introduce the new "global taxonomy" structural changes so that we can:

  • Bring on additional regions more quickly without needing to manually set up each taxonomy over and over from scratch

  • Get complete alignment across regions with things like attributes (nesting site? Was the animal alive or dead? Was it male/female? Was the plant in flower? etc) so that all projects are collecting data in a consistent, aligned, more globally useful structure

  • Drastically simplify the download, update and sync process that the mobile apps need to go through when each project has it's own completely different taxonomy structure. We want people to be able to download the app in under a minute and get up and running reporting without needing to re-download large taxonomy bundles

To do this, we need to make some fairly significant structural changes (once again).

Investing in dedicated DEVELOPMENT environment

We are investing real money in standing up (for the very first time) a dedicated non-production environment for NatureMapr.

This means that we will make all of the large structural changes to support the global taxonomy changes in a completely separate non-production environment so that we don't disrupt the current live platform.

We've wanted to do this for a long time, but it is a significant investment in both time and funds for us, but we basically don't have a choice as we can no longer operate with just a single production environment as we are now too big - users and governments depend on our service every day.

We are also redeveloping the mobile app (yes again) in a brand new platform which will give us much greater control across iOS and Android platforms and will dramatically simplify the amount of work involved to maintain the mobile apps. This means we can give you an even better mobile experience.

As part of this work, we are guided by the goal of "Anybody can pick up the app anywhere in Australia and report an important sighting in less than a minute". So the first thing the new apps will focus on is further simplifying and streamlining the reporting process - as the apps are primarily a data collection tool.

Focus and full Australian coverage

Now that the platform is stable and has some shiny new features, we are in a very strong position to get the global taxonomy changes completed and the mobile app redeveloped all in preparation for our goal of providing full coverage across Australia later in the year. So this now becomes my complete focus from here.

Meeting Southern Highlands team

This Friday I am heading to the Southern Highlands to meet Karen Guymer and her team in person and am really looking forward to it. I would like to once again thank Karen for her continued support of the platform and what we're trying to achieve for citizen science in Australia.



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