Last weekend saw the international fishackathon take place at 43 locations around the world, including Vancouver Aquarium. The event is US State department initiative to support the innovative application of technology to combat issues relating to marine ecology and sustainability - developers (those who write and develop software) and researchers collaborate to attempt to provide a solution to one of 9 problem statements shared by every location around the world.
Both Bourton Scott and Gideon Jones from ESPS were invited to be involved in the weekend as mentors, judges and advice givers to help provide additional information about the context in which tools and applications would be used.
Two of the nine problem statements related to abandoned fishing gear - thanks to the GGGI who had submitted these for consideration, we were excited to see the possible tools that could be helpful in mapping the distribution of the gear.
9 problems, 14 teams of coders 48 hours to get it done
As part of the judging team all of us at ESPS were incredibly impressed with the solutions that the various teams came up with to a wide range of issues in such a short time. The winning group created an app for android and iOS that allows the size of any fish to be measured by a smartphone taking a picture of it. This was a great response to the problem that the team chose to take on, which was to support both fishers and researchers in the field when surveying their catches. With a global database, location and species matching integrated into the application - while simple in purpose the possibilities for big data analysis of fish populations globally are fantastic.
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative were lucky to have 2 problem statements included in the options available for consideration by the hackers
Third place went to a team that developed an app that allowed anyone from recreational users to professional surveyors to report abandoned fishing gear to a global database. The app allows people to not only use GPS to mark the area they found the gear, but walks them through identification of the different features of net types or crab pots. ESPS is looking forward to working with this team to integrate the app into a web based version that we'll host on our website, as well as distributing the mobile app to communities around BC. Congratulations to all who took part and thanks again to Vancouver Aquarium for inviting us along for the fun.