Monday, July 25, 2005

A conservation hack for Google maps?

The Uneasy Chair wants someone to map data about the locations of endangered species with the Google maps interface. Google maps allows you to run your custom data sets through their collection of maps of the globe (see Wired for a history of this phenom). So a conservationist with a big set of GPS points could plug in, for example, the known range of the northern right whale, for example 20 years ago and then again today.

In a later post, Jon links to the World Wildlife Fund's wild finder which can be browsed by region or by species.

I would love to see GPS data from a single radio-tagged blue whale.

I am really drawn to the idea of making data widely available, especially if it comes prepackaged with an interface. For me this is not only for the purpose of popularizing science (in itself greatly needed), but also works toward the more elusive goal of genuinely participatory science. I just love the Wikipedia phenomenon-- an edifice built by thousands of hands. Conservation issues, in particular, rely on the goodwill (and brainpower) of so many people that increasing the involvement by many minds could only help the science and the policy.

UPDATE: COOL! Look at this page by U. Cal Berkeley with locations of major Miocene fossil beds.

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