Wildnote…Taking the work out of fieldwork

This week on Dispatches from the Field, we welcome Nancy Douglas, the “Ambassador of Buzz” for a neat app called Wildnote. Read on to see what it has to offer field biologists (promising more time in the field and less time with tedious work on the computer!). Check out the end of the post to see how you could get your hands on this useful app. 

Disclaimer: I am not a field biologist. In fact, I don’t even work in a science field, but, I am an enthusiastic supporter of those who are, and somehow over the years I have cultivated friendships with “ologists” of many kinds.

At age seven my favorite book was Charlotte’s Web, and, at age 10, I was thrilled with Never Cry Wolf. My bookcase is filled with true stories that revolve around the natural world. I have the deepest respect and admiration for the immense dedication, patience, and determination that field biologists possess. (Honestly, very few people are crazy enough to ride out in the dead of winter on a snow mobile to check on their salmon babies!.)

When my computer programming friend, Kristen, told me about an app she’s been working on for the last three years geared towards field biologists and environmental consultants, I was instantly interested because I could immediately see the benefits for my scientific friends. I became so excited about her “Wildnote” app that I convinced her to hire me to be her Ambassador of Buzz (Yep, that’s a real title … on my business card!).

Let’s face it, most people who work in the field studying our flora and fauna and collecting data do it because they love their research subject and being outdoors, not because they love spending hours in front of a computer compiling data and formatting it according to agency standards. So, wouldn’t it be cool if there were an app for that? Well, now there is – Wildnote.

homepage of wildnoteapp.com

Brooke Langle and her team from Terra Verde Environmental Consulting in San Luis Obispo, CA have been instrumental in Wildnote’s design and function. They are currently using Wildnote in beta form, and they are extremely pleased with the results thus far. Hours of data entry and formatting have been saved so her team can focus on what counts. When I spoke to her, she told me the following story that some of you field biologists might relate to:

Over the course of my career, I worked my way up to management and realized that what I really loved was fieldwork. So I started my own consulting firm and got back into the field. But, I had forgotten how labor intensive it was to do fieldwork and then translate that into a report – constantly looking up botanical names in Latin and the proper abbreviations for wildlife – I’d be in the field writing everything down in my terrible handwriting and doing it quickly because I was more interested in what I was seeing. I’d then have to go back to the office and make sense of it all. One of my projects took eight hours to put the tables together and format them. It was time consuming and frustrating.”

Examples of survey types in the app.Wildnote takes care of all of that for you. It starts with customizable survey forms and ends with automatic-report generation in your required format with a whole bunch of cool stuff in between. You can check out our website for more details, wildnoteapp.com, but here are the things that grabbed me about this app when my friend told me about it and why I want to create a buzz :

  • It is intuitive, highly secure, easy to use, and beautiful to the eye. I think we can all agree that more beauty in the world is a good thing.
  • It works cross-platform on all of your devices. And, yes, it works offline because many of you are offline and off the grid when you are doing your work.
  • Because your heads are already stuffed full of a lot of important data, it has a comprehensive auto-fill database of North American plants and wildlife to make your life easier.
  • You can attach your photos and video right to your report, as well as the exact geo-location of your identified species.
  • It makes compliance-type reports a snap as the reports are easily duplicated for repeated data collection.

And finally, the team who made this really cares. That’s why I hopped on board – because they care about solving problems and customer happiness, and in the larger picture, the world around us.

A note from Nancy: I encourage you to check out Wildnote to see if it might take away some of your reporting tedium so you can focus on what you really like and need to do. If you’d like to be a beta tester, please sign up on our website: wildnoteapp.com, or send me a note directly at nancy@wildnoteapp.com. Feel free to email me any questions you might have, or if you’d like to speak to a live person, give me a call at 805-458-2690.

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