Development of New Technology for the Improvement of a Citizen Science Project: Clean Marine Smartphone App
Murphy, Dylan McNabb
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Marine debris can present a series of detrimental outcomes to South Carolina's coastal waters habitats, and species. Marine debris are manmade objects that have been discarded into the marine environment and can pose navigational hazards, increase water pollution by leaking fuel or other pollutants, trap coastal and estuarine species, and impair the aesthetics of a tidal marsh or estuary. One of the challenges to managing marine debris is timely, accurate, reporting. In 2011, the South Carolina Marine Debris Initiative was created. Led by various federal, state, and local regulatory agencies, the purpose of this initiative was to coordinate efforts to manage marine debris removal and to raise public awareness about the problem. As part of the Marine Debris Initiative, the National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Marine Debris awarded funding to state and local agencies which led to the creation of the Clean Marine Program. This program instructs volunteers in how to document the location of marine debris, properly complete a paper form while boating, and then digitally submit the data to a web form when back on land. The hypothesis of this thesis was that the current submission method could be simplified by developing an application for smartphones that performs all the functions of the paper/web form. The application developed allows users to immediately report the debris sighting using a quick and convenient electronic medium. The application was programmed for use on the Android operating system for smartphone handsets & tablet computers. Once the application was developed and tested, it was promoted via nationwide nautical groups alongside the Clean Marine Program. Questionnaires collected from willing anonymous participants were used to improve the application's usefulness. Based on questionnaire responses, debris submissions, and the app's market performance, it was successful in being more efficient and appealing way to submit debris.