WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

Submitted
Gathering votes
Support
Gathering votes
Originality
Refine
Eligible
Close
Approved
Thank you for joining in the refinement process and supporting this idea. The idea submitter has passed all the milestones and is now eligible for final judging.

Tend your Planet/War On Weeds

A mobile and web browser app that turns spotting, identifying and removing environmental weeds into a fun, engaging game. Whether you’re young or old, a weed novice or weeding expert, a conservation coordinator or simply a person who enjoys walking in the bush, this game app is for you.


Spot an environmental weed?…gain points at the push of a button on your mobile phone - marking it on a map. Confirm the existence of a weed or help others to identify weeds they’ve discovered and gain additional points. Go on a mission to remove invasive species, mark your weeding efforts and improve your score. Confirm where weed removal has been successful, and where further work may be required. As your score increases so does your rank, and the credibility of your observations and actions. Sign up or create a local “battalion” and work together on weeding missions. Easily see the progress you are making on reducing environmental weeds in your neighbourhood, as well as your collective impact nationwide.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Environmental weeds are not sexy, they’re not particularly fun to remove, and yet they are a huge conservation problem. Auckland has the dubious distinction of being the “world’s weediest city” yet it is remarkable how little we know about the specific location and spread of environmental weeds. What knowledge we do have can be hard for the general community to access.

There are a great number of small, awesome environmental groups doing weeding work in local areas, but these have well known challenges. For example, getting volunteers, maintaining morale, keeping track of efforts, communicating actions and finding funding are just some of the difficulties which have been highlighted.

At a broader national level there are no standard protocols on the reporting of environmental weeds, which means reporting and monitoring is inconsistent.

Predator Free 2050 has the potential to increase the threat of environmental weeds (a greater dispersal of weed seeds due to birds).

 

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

The Tend your Planet/War on Weeds game will provide:

- A fun way for learning for people who have little or no knowledge of environmental weeds

- Collection of weed data on a scale we have been unable to achieve in the past, on both public and private land

- Sharing of data between and within organisations

- Better definition of reporting protocols, through collaboration and discussion about appropriate points scoring mechanism in the game.

- Increases in voluntarism for environmental restoration and participation in environmental groups

- Enhanced funding opportunities through mission and prize sponsorships

- Enhanced capacity for research on environmental weeds (e.g. dispersion, effect of predator free policy, etc)

 

We’ve developed a prototype! Try it out at:

Install link for mobile device (iPhone and Android)

http://bit.ly/2xFEu8J

Browser link

http://bit.ly/2xFiNph

Player Guide

http://bit.ly/2yogI4p

What makes your idea new and unique?

As far as we are aware this is the first time that identifying and removing weeds has been turned into a viable game. There is some novelty also in the simplicity of the location based tool for mapping, monitoring and reporting conservation data. We will be making two different user interfaces, one Tend your Planet is inspired by the book “The Little Prince" which emphasises weeding as a form of local guardianship, the War on Weeds interface has a more tongue-in-cheek combat theme. These interfaces connect to the same underlying database, and this novel way of engaging different audiences will increase reach and interest (and enable fascinating opportunities for competition and research). Another great feature is the low cost involved for collection, storage, and maintenance of environmental data (shoutout to Google and Appsheet for reduced NFP rates) which means we will be able to provide the game hosting service for free indefinitely into the future. 

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

We strive to make environmental connection engaging, fun, and also to honour the contributions of individuals and groups. Our principles are therefore about keeping things simple, providing open access to data in real time, and using the contributions of participants to expand the overall knowledge and understanding of weed species.


The Tend your Planet/War on Weeds game concept has been designed with the intention of being useful to a wide array of people and groups. Participants with little weed knowledge will have fun learning about weed threats to our ecosystems, community groups will find it to be a useful way of tracking weeds and volunteer actions, experts will be rewarded by seeing reductions in problematic weeds, researchers will benefit from a new credible environmental weed dataset. Municipal and national authorities will benefit for more uniform conservation reporting.

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

The initial prototype provides a demo of the possibilities for game development, and is essentially only the first step. The next phases of development will include:


1. Demoing, testing, and refining the early prototype


2. Developing the Tend your Planet user interface


3. Adding additional features (e.g. mission deployment, text messaging of reminders, enhancements to Te Reo language option, new ideas)


4. Exploration integration, in particular with the Naturespace website/app iNaturalist and online events/calendaring (e.g. Facebook, eventbrite)


5. Collaborations across organisations (Local, Regional and National Organisations, MfE, Weedbusters, DOC, Forest & Bird and others) to work on a protocol for reporting which will be embodied in the gameplay


6. Broad deployment (hopefully with the assistance and support of the above organisations)


7. Acquisition of sponsorship. We’d like to invest $5000 of the grant funding to generate $25,000 in sponsorship for community weeding groups as prizes.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Autonomous Weed Eaters - there is not a single approach to the problem of invasive/environmental weeds. Biological control remains a really exciting possibility!

 

The Urban Rat Project - helping to make rat trapping fun. We are also excited by potential collaboration!

 

STREAMED - we are aware that a really functional user-friendly nation-wide water quality monitoring system for citizens is desperately needed.

 

Fluke and Flipper - Hectors dolphin has a very special place in our hearts, so efforts to enhance conservation are greatly appreciated.

 

Cacophony because it is a really interesting premise and the idea of humans imitating sexy animal calls makes us giggle a little

How could you improve your idea?

We been very pleased and pleasantly surprised by the reaction of conservation community members and friends to our idea submitted. The submission has been a valuable exercise for us and we are grateful for the opportunity.


Firstly, we have had quite a few wonderful suggestions on ways to improve gameplay. For example, a really great idea suggested was to increase the weed score as time passes, thereby encouraging the removal of difficult weeds. Another cool idea was to put a special bounty on weeds prior to seed dispersal timings, reducing their overall spread.


Secondly, thanks to participants who have trialled the app and helped us to test the initial prototype - we now also have a better understanding about structural improvements. For instance, one participant has suggested the impracticality of pushing buttons on a phone with weeding gloves. In the short-term improvements to resolve this may include the ability to save location information and edit details at a later time. A more sophisticated long-term resolution is adding the ability to enter data through voice commands.


 


Finally, we really appreciate suggestions from community members about aspects of the project we will need to consider more in the future - for example how to effectively spread the word, and developer considerations.

edited on Oct 15, 2017 by Dan Ducker

Barbara Folkard 1 month ago

Great idea!

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks Barb!

Reply

Damon Birchfield 1 month ago

Fantastic! Good luck

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks Damon, awesome to have your support! Don't forget to try out the game!

Reply

Michael Fielding 1 month ago

Very, very interesting.

The idea of having two brands - to appeal to different market segments - is smart.

Have you given much thought to how to spread the word? I think that's one of the tricky parts.

If you get it launched, I'd be very happy to cross-promote it through The Urban Rat Project.

PS do you have (a team with?) the development skills for it already?

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks Michael!

Hahaaa, the multi-brand innovation was more good luck than good design...we started prototyping with our current programme "War on Weeds", but increasing questioned the war rhetoric and the connection of conservation to war. It will be interesting to see which of the user interfaces are adopted. My bet is that initially the WOW will be more successful, but over the longer term the Tend your Planet will be adopted more.

We haven't put much thought into marketting and dissemination yet - this is very much an early phase idea. Our hope though is that if it is fun, simple, and useful the spread will be fairly organic. If you play you will see there are some similarities between the "Main" UX and Pokemon Go (which was a bit of an inspiration). We of course don't anticipate that level of success!...but I reckon there are definitely things we can learn from the way that some games have gone viral.

Thanks for your kind offer of cross promotion. We'd love to promote your tool too! If you haven't connected with the North West Wildlink, I think that would be a great local collective to hook into (our restoration team leader has a strong involvement and I'm sure would be happy to introduce you). Also come and meet the team at EcoMatters!

No we don't have a development team...let's have a cup of tea together ;-)

Good luck!

Reply

Jennifer Mcguire 1 month ago

I LOVE this! I think you should win for your photo alone! But all joking aside....I really like how the app will engage users with the missions and updates....it is exciting and I think could get people really excited about weeds. This is fun fun fun and great for conservation. I love your style and great attitude! I wish you'd entered a few weeks ago - and seriously hope you get enough votes by tomorrow. You are professionals for sure!

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks for your support and encouragement Jennifer! Our WeedFree team at EcoMatters make pretty convincing actors don't they! (they enjoy dress-ups so the photoshoot was really fun). We hope we get enough votes too! Let's stay in touch!

Users tagged:

Reply

Jennifer Mcguire 1 month ago

Awesome. You should do it only 3 more votes to go. I've shared your plight on facebook to get those last few votes. Good luck!

Reply

View all replies (2)

Caroline Wells 1 month ago

Love the avatars

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Hahaha. Yeah it was fun to create some demo characters :) my favourite is Weedy McWeedface!

Reply

Jen Senior 1 month ago

Great idea, good luck!

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm Jen!

Reply

Sarah jane Murray 1 month ago

Great idea

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks SJ!!!

Reply

Andrew Lee 1 month ago

Any idea that engages and motivates the public has my vote.

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Appreciate your encouragement Andrew!

Reply

Tam Alexander 1 month ago

Weeds are a huge and growing problem. Any good ideas on managing or eradicating them should be encouraged - like this one...

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Thanks Tam! Really appreciate your support!

Reply

Fiona McCallum 1 month ago

Exciting idea!

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 month ago

Yay!!! Thanks Fi, we could really do with your fun design eye on this!!

Reply

Cookie Wilde 1 month ago

Bloody great idea mate. This Aussie is proud of your kiwi enginuity.

Reply

Gerry Henley 1 month ago


Great Idea go for it !

Reply

Becky Wilson 1 month ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone

Reply

Megan Somerville 1 month ago

Truer words were never spoken... "environmental weeds are not sexy'! Well said!

There are other apps such as iNaturalist which has sightings for the dirty dozen weeds. How will the gaming app radically (and sustainably) change the war on weeds that apps like iNaturalist can't do?
Based on some of the problems that game apps like Pokémon-Go have had, I wonder about the 'legality/morality' of people wandering onto public or private spaces and pulling out what they may unfortunately misidentify as a weed? What will the owners of the property say? what are the health and safety implications of people using the app and wanting to reach over the cliff so that they can get that dratted weed that is worth a lot of points?

nga mihi

Reply

Dan Ducker 1 week ago

Kia ora Megan. Thanks so much for your great comments and ideas! iNaturalist is awesome and ideally we'd love to work with the iNaturalist/Naturewatch team to integrate the two platforms (synchonising the observations with the naturewatch backend, and working with the NW community to help in identification. We def don't want to reinvent the wheel on this, but there is definitely scope for more entertaining tools/games in this area. Great points about the pulling out of weeds on public and private land - our aim is to manage this through the rank system of the game, and through the weed verification process. For public land, players with high rank (i.e. weeding org co-ordinator) will be able to arrange attacks and effectively supervise, as occurs currently. Thanks again for your ideas!

Reply

Share