Discovery Communications' Science Channel recently launched a new iPhone application to engage citizen scientists as mobile field observers right from their own back yard.
With the "sci.spy" app, users can venture into their little domain of the world, and take images of all of the biodiversity that can be find. By selecting a "mission" to categorize the pictures, from general wildlife and bugs in your backyard to natural invasions and pets, anyone can contribute detailed information about their native biological environment from where ever they live.
This sort of broad repository of location-specific identifications could become a very critical tool for professional scientists studying the evolution of ecosystems in which civilized humans thrive, and for those who monitor the ongoing health of our environments. If sci.spy, or other similar databases created by crowd sourced data, continue to develop into massively-utilized tools by both a large user base and with a high frequency of updates, then the power of this resource could be realized soon.
Although the participatory program is entirely free, it does throw in some little banner advertising for upcoming shows on the Science Channel's family of outlets. For some recent "best of the bugs" images contributed from the early adopting users, check out the "Gorgeous And Creepy" photo gallery.
Sign up with SciSpy to contribute observations of critters from your own backyard: