One utility appeals to citizen scientists for help testing waterway health

Posted 7 November 2017

A frog
Melbourne Water has hopped into community engagement, winning an international award for its Frog Census mobile application that enables citizen scientists to identify and track local frog populations. 

Frogs serve many useful functions, such as pest control, but are sensitive to changes in the environment, including habitat loss, pollution and drought. Because of this, the utility developed the Frog Census app to serve as a litmus test for Melbourne’s water and ecosystem health. 

The app, with the input of citizen scientists, monitors frog populations and raises awareness about water quality issues. Using a smartphone, community members can download the Melbourne Water Frog Census application, and the data collected helps the utility manage waterway issues identified as a result of species numbers.

Users can submit recordings of frog calls via the app, which also includes a field guide and search function, allowing users to preview frog calls specific to species in their location. 

Reports submitted by users are added to a collated map, giving other users access to other frog reports made across Melbourne. The app is supported by a variety of online sources as well, including tips on how to create a frog-friendly habitat and educational resources for schools.
Melbourne Water won the International Association for Public Participation Australasia Core Values Award in the Environment Project category for the app. 
Related articles:
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New water education centre paves the way for better community engagement