Friday 23 November 2012

Thursday 22 November 2012

ViBRANT Citizen Science Workshop (24-25 January 2013)

Organised by Ed Baker (me) & Sarah Faulwetter to set a framework for future development of the Scratchpads BioBlitz profile (demo site) and the HCMR's ViBRANT deliverable of a Citizen Science module for Drupal.

Workshop Day 1: What can we learn from successful citizen science projects?

Morning (workshop participants & invited NHM staff)

Presentations from successful citizen science projects (background to the project and what has made them successful)

Afternoon (workshop participants)

Round table discussion on how ViBRANT and Scratchpads can participate in citizen science with emphasis on:
  • What would be useful for us to do and how we might be able to engage with existing projects?
  • What user-groups exist, how are they served by existing projects, and who can Scratchpads/ViBRANT target?
  • What are the outcomes of these projects (fun/educational awareness/scientific data)?
  • What quality of data can be collected?
  • How can data gathered be reused (Biodiversity Data Journal/GBIF/EoL)?

Workshop Day 2: Creating a citizen science plan for Scratchpads & ViBRANT

ViBRANT attendees

  • Development plan for HCMR’s citizen science module and can we incorporate it into the BioBlitz profile
  • Can we incorporate citizen science tools into Scratchpads in general (e.g. crowdsourcing image transcription).

Sunday 18 November 2012

Playing with Flickr and CartoDB

Last Friday we had a ViBRANT sponsored workshop about CartoDB, the open source mapping and visualisation product from Madrid/New York based Vizzuality. The context of the workshop was possible integration of CartoDB with the Scratchpads and OBOE projects in the context of visualising biological datasets. The notes for the workshop demonstrations are here and are what the work done here is based on.

Not having a suitable dataset to hand I have been playing with making maps of the photos I have shared on Flickr. Flickr does provide a map view of a user's photographs (here's mine) although it is very limited in functionality - and unless you only have a handful of photographs you can't get a map view of all of your photographs.

I have previously visualised my Flickr stream by hacking the Drupal flickrsync module to save geolocation data with the Location module. Even with clustering the map points for 7,000+ images the results are slow to load: Drupal Flickr map of my photographs. The plus side of this work was that with just modifying the output of the view I could get a CSV file of my Flickr stream which I easily imported into CartoDB.

The basic map produced by CartoDB from this file is below:

Next I wanted to make a map of countries that are represented in my Flickr stream (perhaps I really wanted to play with PostGIS and polygons). This required downloading a shape file of all the countries from thematicmapping and uploading the file to a new table in CartoDB (CartoDB will accept the URL to the zip file so you can do it without downloading the file if you choose). The following SQL was applied to the world countries table:

This results in the following map:

Finally using some PostGIS I was able to make this map a little more accurate by splitting the countries into separate polygons (e.g. separating Hawaii from the continental United States, Northern Ireland from Great Britain).

Here's the new map:

Thursday 8 November 2012

Drupal Developer | Natural History Museum, London

Become part of an expanding team of developers working at the cutting edge of information science and biodiversity research. The Natural History Museum London is recruiting a Drupal developer (fixed term until end of November 2013, £34,853 per annum plus benefits) to work on the Scratchpad project ( as part of a major effort to help researchers share and manage biodiversity data on the Web.

Key tasks and responsibilities include:

•   Development and support of Drupal Modules and Themes

•   Data parsing and content construction

•   Supporting users in the development of their sites

•   Interfacing with the user support team

Applicants should be able to work on their own initiative and be proficient in module development, theming and quality assurance. Mentored training and support will be provided. Successful applicants will work with members of the developer and user communities to manage and parse biodiversity data, in addition to helping with the design, construction and testing of Drupal modules and sites.  The project includes opportunities for international travel as part of the development team.

Applicants should have at least 1-2 years experience in Drupal development (version 6 & 7) with hands on experience configuring Views, CCK and other contributed Drupal modules. This includes working with PHP, MySQL, SQL, XML, HTML and CSS. If you have a profile page on, please make reference to this within your application along with Drupal websites you have developed.

For job specific enquiries contact

Absolutely, Positively, Strictly - NO RECRUITMENT AGENCIES.

For a full job description and to apply online please visit the Natural History Museum website.

Closing date: 30th November 2012