Monitoring Marine Protected Areas

MPA Watch Home Page
Client:   MPA Watch

MPA Watch is a citizen science monitoring program that trains volunteers to observe and collect data on human uses of coastal and marine resources both inside and outside of marine protected areas (MPAs). Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and broadly accessible data.  GreenInfo was asked to develop a web-based data management system to support this valuable work.

GreenInfo's work began in 2013 with the development of a mobile website and information management system to allow volunteers to collect scientific data on coastal and marine resource use.  Collected data helps inform MPA management and supports the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The application continues to evolve, but it is rooted in basic web technologies that allow volunteers to use their phones, tablets, and mobile computers to collect and submit surveys from the field.

The MPA site and application are managed by stakeholders and program coordinators.  GreenInfo built the base system, allowing users to maintain the survey locations, approve surveys, communicate with volunteers, and edit website content on their own. 

The success of the application is in its activity.  In the past three years, nearly 13,000 surveys and historical entries have been logged in the system.

On the technical side, a back-end Information management System (IMS) is used by volunteers and managers to enter survey data and manage survey sites. The IMS connects together over a dozen tables including monitoring programs and their personnel, MPAs and survey sites, the surveys themselves, and additional survey data such as boat observations, documents, and photographs. This is all managed via a mobile-friendly website form, saved to a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database.

The front-facing map uses this same database, to display the public view and to enable searching of the data and export of spreadsheets of MPA monitoring activities.   Both the IMS and the front-facing website are written using jQuery and Leaflet.

The majority of data are entered into the MPAWatch database via the IMS. But some customized needs have come up from time to time, such as when onboarding a new MPA monnitoring program who brings a volume of prior survey data. In these cases GreenInfo Network has taken on the challenge of writing custom import tools to load the historical data into the MPA Watch IMS, saving hundreds of hours of data entry.

Focus:   Conservation, Environment  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, Applications Development, Web Mapping, Website Design, Mobile Applications 

Tags:   Leaflet, Marine, Marine Protected Areas, mobile, monitoring, MPA, Ocean  

Project Years: 2013-2016

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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