MADISON, Wis. – Snapshot Wisconsin, one of the Department of Natural Resources’ largest citizen science projects, opened its new data visualization tool to the public Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2020. The dashboard lets the public interact with data collected from approximately 2,000 cameras spread across the state to monitor wildlife.
Snapshot Wisconsin is a citizen science program that provides a unique opportunity for individuals, families and students to get involved in monitoring the state’s natural resources. Snapshot Wisconsin’s data helps inform wildlife management decisions , such as providing fawn-to-doe ratios in each county every year, the DNR said in a news release.
“One of the main goals of the data dashboard is to display the data in a way that is interpretable and meaningful to the general public, especially the volunteers,” said Ryan Bemowski, DNR data scientist and developer of the dashboard. “Snapshot wants to make sure they get a full picture of what their data is producing.”
Program volunteers host a network of trail cameras across the state that take “snapshots” of animals as they pass by. Additional volunteers then help classify the wildlife in the photos to generate a database of which species are seen by time and location. To date, approximately 47 million images have been collected by the Snapshot Wisconsin program.
The data dashboard offers volunteers and the public a new way to engage directly with this data, letting people choose which information they want to visualize. At launch, the data for 18 wildlife species is available to explore, including what times of the day and year the species is most active and how the species is distributed across the state.
Data can be viewed for specific counties or statewide, and the data from maps and graphs can be downloaded to share with others.
The data dashboard is an evolving product with expanded features already in the works. Additional species will be added to the dashboard over time, and a larger pool of data will be added as more photos are classified. However, the Snapshot team wants to see feedback on the data dashboard.
At the bottom of the dashboard is a short four-question survey where anyone can give feedback, such as which additional species could be included in the future.
Snapshot Wisconsin is looking for people who want to contribute to science and monitor the wildlife in Wisconsin. Visit snapshotwisconsin.org to learn more.