January 1, 2012
Outdoor lovers, listen up.
Have you ever been out on a hike, come across a specific species of bird, shrub, or flower that you didn’t recognize? Although you’re genuinely curious, there’s little you can do to find any answers.
Project Noah is the answer.
Simply snap a shot of the species in question within Project Noah’s mobile app, and select the “Help me ID this species” option. Before long one of the knowledgeable and active Project Noah community members will input the answer, or at worst, their best guess.
Getting help identifying a specific species is only a small fraction of this wildlife focused app’s purpose. According to the Project Noah website their “ultimate goal is to build the go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms and through doing this we hope to develop an effective way to measure Mother Nature’s pulse. By encouraging the mobile masses to document their encounters with nature, we hope to build a powerful force for data collection and an important educational tool for wildlife awareness and preservation.”
Noah, short for Networked Organisms and Habitats, was awarded a $50,000 prize as the winner of the Breakthroughs in Mobile Learning award from the inaugural Cooney Center Prizes for Innovation in Children’s Learning. Additionally, the wildlife focused app received an early investment from National Geographic. Other prominent venture capitalists, including Fred Wilson, have expressed interest in Noah, but co-founder Yasser Ansari isn’t unwilling to take on funding if it compromises the direction of the project. Ansari is more concerned with curating a movement that will have a lasting social impact than he is in selling a company.
Project Noah should serve as a case study in building a project around a passionate community. Since launching in February 2010, the app has already reached 500,000 downloads and 137,000 “spottings” (uploaded pictures). Ansari adds…
“It’s crazy how when we moved away from the science language and value proposition, we ended up getting boatloads more observations (data points). I didn’t think we’d uncover such a passionate and active community. I should have known though because from my personal experience, many nature communities out there today are very serious and intense….I’ve been getting so many emails from teachers, parents, students, and researchers from around the world and although we have a lot of room for improvement, our approach is working and we are amassing a dedicated army of networked naturalists and citizen scientists.”
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