Why is this important?

Rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation is a prominent feature of our time. As of 2016, an estimated 54.5% of the global population resided in cities and that percentage is predicted to grow to 60% in 2030. With an increasing number of people moving to and settling in cities, we run the danger of removing ourselves from our natural environment. This separation can be problematic, especially when humans fail to recognise that they are part of a larger ecosystem, and not above it; a sense of responsibility and compassion is essential if we are to live in harmony alongside nature. So, how do we plan to achieve this (ambitious goal)? By giving you the opportunity to get to know your non-human neighbours: if someone wants to be informed of what other creatures surround them, we want to be the ones to tell them. This knowledge is valuable because it keeps you informed, it makes you aware, but we’d like to do a little more. We want to give you the option of turning information into action: what can you do to help?

Our Approach

Technology is beautiful in its ability to empower an individual, and as it continues to push at its boundaries, it’s potential for effecting change is becoming more evident. Globally, the number of smartphone users has been climbing steadily and is currently estimated at 3.5 billion, 45.04% of the population. It has become an integral part of our educational and learning environment in this digital age and helps us to stay informed on topics that interest us. However, this can have a downside; the media that we are consuming, and especially on topics that cause us concern, could lead to higher levels of anxiety. But this doesn’t have to be the case, we want to leverage the infrastructure available to take the user from information to action. This is our answer to the question: What can I do about it?

The idea is not limited to a technological solution: alongside the app, we intend to build a community of people who want to reconnect with the natural world. If the user wishes to be informed and actively participate in local conservation efforts, the app will connect them to the right opportunities and people. To ensure that the app has recurring users as well as regular opportunities to connect with conservation efforts, the next stage of development is to gamify the approach. Building on the established local network of registered users who are passionate about continuing their journey can apply to local programs and organisations. Upon completion, they attain a certain level, which then opens up more serious opportunities. This can run as a mentorship program with existing National Geographic staff where users can intern with photographers, journalists, filmmakers upon reaching a certain level, which is something that a lot of young people aspire to do.

What Do We Do differently?

Preliminary market research revealed that the apps available are either exclusively educational (like iNaturalist, Seek, etc.) or organization action-based (WWF, National Geographic). Our location-based app not only informs the user of her/his immediate surroundings but pushes her/him in the direction of positive action by flagging local conservation efforts, organizations, initiatives and events depending on her/his location. The product is not the app itself, but the community that is built around it; the framework is designed to keep connecting people to opportunities at various levels and to continue on that journey, outside of the app.

How Does It Work?

Once the user registers on the app (or chooses not to), they are prompted to enter their location or enable their location services. The app then sources and displays data on the local flora and fauna. The users have the option to then explore the different species found in their immediate surroundings. On selecting an animal/reptile/bird or plant, two prompts appear, Information and Action. The Information tab reveals a short description of the selected species, its conservation and population status, rate of survival and its impact on the ecosystem. The Action tab is a gateway for users to find local organizations, initiatives and events that help in the conservation of endangered species in their city/town/neighbourhood.

What we learnt

All five members of the BioCurious team had no programming or developing experience prior to this hackathon. We conceived and designed an app from scratch on Figma and gained a new skill set in less than three days. Working virtually required that we all keep ourselves motivated to keep working and it was pleasantly surprising to see that it was the case for everyone! It also helped some of us understand that knowledge is quite easily accessible if you’re curious enough and to that extent, it has definitely given us the boost to try out something new. Despite the amount of designing that our team managed to put together, we were trumped when it came to front-end development and it’s disappointing to finish these two days up with no workable code, but that’s something to read up on for next time!

What's next for BioCurious

BioCurious is an app aimed at almost everybody. It can be adapted to any context, landscape and ecosystem. It has the potential to connect like-minded individuals on a common platform and transfer ownership to local communities. It connects those who want to make a difference to those who provide the avenues to do so. Registration of users on the site provides a database of quantifiable positive action towards conservation through conversion rates and helps build a community that can take up further decentralised action. It opens doors to institutions-both government and non-governmental- to advertise initiatives and reach their target audience. In turn, they receive support and possible funding through conversions (and conversations) on BioCurious. It would also give an opportunity for organizations like IUCN, National Geographic, WWF, academics and researchers to contribute and broaden the educational scope of the app.

Built With

  • figma
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