discussion / Wildlife Crime  / 8 April 2021

Ecognize: A platform for environmental and conservation issue reporting

(I crossposted this thread from the "Software and Mobile Apps" subforum, original here, because it fits into this subforum too - if a moderator disagrees, feel free to delete this copy)

Hello everyone,

inspired by platforms like WildALERT in the Philippines and the eJustice app in Sri Lanka, I developed the beta version of Ecognize over the last couple of months. For those unfamiliar with WildALERT and eJustice: These are platforms for reporting environmental and conservation issues. Users can submit reports (with photos and geotags) to these platforms for further processing by local organizations in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Ecognize takes this idea, generalizes it (by allowing users to select from a variety of issue categories), and applies it globally. That means that users can send in reports wherever they are on the planet. These reports are automatically distributed to organizations in the country where the report was submitted, provided the organizations registered with Ecognize before. Just a few examples of more than 30 categories users can choose from:

  • Deforestation, land clearing, arson
  • Poaching
  • Sales of various illegal animal goods
  • Illegal sales of live species
  • Food items on restaurant menus

Additionally, Ecognize offers various communications channels for organizations to work together within their country and internationally through a fine-grained forums system which provides forums by (a) geographical location and (b) professional sphere (law enforcement and customs have separate forums from non-profits, but shared forums exist as well). Dropbox-like file sharing with a strong focus on security exists too.

The idea behind this development was to save national efforts and to have one global platform where users can report on environmental and conservation issues, just like in the national solutions for Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Additionally, collaboration on reports should be easy both within and across borders. Users can hand in reports both via the website and through a mobile app. This way, Ecognize facilitates a "citizen reporter" approach to environmental and conservation issue reporting. Organizations can access reports only through the website (not the app) and only after registration, which is vetted to prevent unauthorized access to reports.

Before finalizing Ecognize and making the platform public, I am now looking for the following:

  • General feedback: Is the idea good and useful? (my general assumption was that it would be, given there were several national efforts already, but I might be wrong)
  • Beta users: I would like to receive feedback from professionals in the areas of conservation or environmental protection who could see themselves profit from receiving reports submitted through Ecognize
  • Organizations interested in registering to receive reports: organizations who could serve as pioneers for deployment and handling incoming reports and would consider using them for crowd reporting, as well as spreading the word about the platform and the app (if they find Ecognize to be good and useful)

I can provide anyone interested with a test account for Ecognize. Additionally, there are introduction slides attached to this post.

I'd be very happy to hear your (honest) thoughts!

Update (April 16): I just open-sourced the code at https://github.com/ecognize-hub/ecognize. I released it under the Apache 2.0 license so it can be used for pretty much anything, including commercial use.