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Project targets smartphone users for Water Experience Survey

Project Blue targets 800,000 smartphone users for the Great Kiwi Summer Water Experience Survey

Project Blue is the brand name for revolutionary new technology that allows water quality information to be measured accurately and reported on-line, using smartphones, live, 24/7, for 25-50% less than the cost of existing technology. It is the invention of a small group of Kiwi innovators based in Wellington. Project Blue can “crowdsource” information from smartphone users uploading their water experiences to Project Blue’s facebook pages.

Project Blue Lead Scientist Susan Harris said today that this “crowdsourcing” technique would be used in the Great Kiwi Summer Water Experience Survey 2012-2013 due to kick off on Saturday 15 December 2012. The survey will run for eight weeks until 9 February 2013. Project Blue will process photos, videos and observations of water quality uploaded by smartphone users to complete the survey.

“This way we hope to crowdsource a data-rich sample of recreational demands, trends, preferences, and water quality experiences of New Zealanders and others on holiday this summer,“ said Mrs Harris. “The survey is free for the public. Smartphone users will pay for their uploads to facebook, but the progress of the survey and summary of results will be free to view on facebook as the summer proceeds. “

Project Blue has set up a Project Blue New Zealand national overview page, and 16 regional pages on Facebook. Specific pages for individual sites or locations, like the Manawatu River, will be created on request, or when more than 30 uploads come in.

With over 800,000 smartphones going on holiday with their owners this summer, Project Blue is hoping for extensive coverage of water quality experiences uploaded live from rivers, lakes, beaches, forests and mountains all over New Zealand.

“The Third Report of the Land and Water Forum noted that there is a gap in our knowledge of water-based recreation needs, and that an inventory of water bodies suitable for recreation is needed,” said Mrs Harris. “So we plan to help address this by carrying out the Great Kiwi Summer Water Experience Survey, where we ask everybody on holiday to upload at least one photo or video of their summer water quality experience to the relevant Project Blue facebook page, giving a rating for their experience of “Brilliant”, “Good”, “Dodgy”, or “Contaminated”. If only one in eight smartphone owners do this over the summer, that’s 100,000 uploads, and we will have an unmatched, powerful, live, data-rich recreation survey to report back to New Zealanders. And if our scientists see anything they think should be reported to the ‘water police’, they will pass the information on to the regional councils, and report progress with the incident on facebook.”

“We will be preparing a full technical report for our sponsors and investors, and we will report a summary of findings to the public on facebook on Monday 25 February 2013,” said Mrs Harris. This survey could be repeated every year to track national trends in water quality experiences and recreational demands.

Having supervised a number of water recreational surveys in her career in the past, Mrs Harris is looking forward to analysing the results from this crowdsourced national survey. “As far as we know, a crowdsourced survey of this type and scale has never been done before,” Mrs Harris said, “and it will be fascinating to review the live evidence on-line of summer water experiences, and how they match the “100% Pure” slogan used for the New Zealand holiday experience.”


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