There is already a substantial amount of data in existence on the barriers within European rivers. However, even for the most comprehensively audited countries, data is patchy and often of poor quality. Proper assessment and prioritisation of remedial action cannot be undertaken until the full picture is known. Barrier Tracker, part of the Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers (AMBER) project, seeks to address this issue by using a smartphone app to crowd-source data from across Europe. Initially available in 9 languages the app allows anyone to record the barriers they encounter. The app has been designed to allow a low-level of minimum information to be provided in order to reduce complexity for inexperienced recorders. However, a certain sub-set of data is always required to ensure the data is still useful.
The app also features an interactive map which displays both the app generated data and all of the currently known barrier data from Europe. This means that a recorder can easily check their local area to see if the barriers they encounter have already been recorded. It also provides motivation for recorders to tackle under-recorded areas.
A specially designed citizen science web portal has also been designed to work alongside the app. Owing the fact that many thousands of records are anticipated, the portal contains a section to allow members of the public to classify the barrier data. Classification ultimately leads to verification and/or re-determination of records. Each record has to be classified a minimum number of times and with a set percentage of agreement before verification occurs. Citizen scientists can, therefore, assist with the entire life-cycle of the data.
Having only just gone live at the time of writing, in its first two weeks the app generated over 600 records of barriers from across Europe.