Citizen data separates the grevilleas from the gum trees

Throngs of digital-savvy bush walkers helped boost the Ipswich trail data on the Naeus Explore app.
Now a host of horticultural helpers are needed to build up the app’s plant ID feature.

Naeus Explore app was developed by brothers Tim and Jeremy Butler after winning the first DigiCon Hackathon at Fire Station 101.

The app originally launched with GPS guided maps of walking tracks to enhance the experience of visitors to Ipswich conservation estates including White Rock-Spring Mountain, Denmark Hill, Purga Nature Reserve and more.

Tim Butler said they’ve had up to 100 people using the app on the same day while exploring Ipswich conservation estates.

A recent survey of Naeus Explore users found 75 per cent had discovered an area they didn’t know about through using the app.

The next phase of the app has incorporated a plant identification feature – something that was part of Tim’s original inspiration for Naeus Explore.

“I’ve got a big backyard and I never knew the names of some of the plants. When I moved to Ipswich going on some of the walks, I would see a native plant but not know the name. It was hard to go to a nursery and say I want something that looks like this,” he said.

“The technology is at the right time. With machine learning, you can essentially train a system to recognise any photo based object. Our thought was to do it for Australian natives, since they are such an untouched side of things.

“That was our original idea and pitch (for the DigiCon Hackathon), and in consultation with Ipswich City Council that became a broader requirement to get people into estates.

“We looked at that as an opportunity as well, a broader app that encourages people to get out into their local ecosystem, plus incorporating the plant identification would be a success.”

The challenge will be sourcing enough images to help the machine learn how to identify and distinguish between species.

Tim said they were wanting to source funding for a ‘citizen science’ project to collect the images.

“That way a database could be built up essentially for everyone to use,” he said.

You can help by downloading the Naeus Explore app and using the plant identification to take pictures of native plants in your area.

Taken a terrific nature-based photo in Ipswich?

Enter it in the Enviroplan Photo Competition, via website or Instagram.

A $2300 prize pool is up for grabs!

Hurry – entries close August 24, 2018.

Pretty Pea by M Fox
Four plants that are hot right now If you’re out exploring Ipswich’s natural areas, or even your backyard, this is what you might see in bloom this time of year. Images are previous entries from the Enviroplan Photo Competition.
  1. Banksia
2. Grevillea
3. Melaleuca
4. Wattle

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