Scientists hope a new web app that allows users to search for threatened species in their postcode will put conservation on the agenda this federal election.
The Threatened Australians app, launched earlier this month and developed by University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology researchers, allows users to find local threatened at-risk species in any electorate by inputting a postcode.
UQ PhD candidate Gareth Kindler said the first-of-its-kind, non-partisan app finally showcases this public interest data in an accessible and engaging way.
“Australia is lucky to have extensive national biodiversity data, but until now it hasn’t been very easy for all citizens to access this information,” Kindler said.
“So far this election, there appears to be a lack of focus on environmental issues, particularly biodiversity. This is problematic because our wellbeing and prosperity is dependent upon having a healthy environment. It’s up to governments and elected representatives to implement the reform needed to safeguard the thousands of imperilled species in Australia.”
Once a postcode is entered into the app, users simply scroll through various threatened species within their electorate.
The app then offers users tools to taking action, such as contacting their federal member, sharing their findings via social networks or connecting with NGOs working to save threatened species.
UQ’s Professor James Watson said one aim of this straightforward tool was to put threatened species at the front of voters’ minds when they head to polls.
“Elected politicians in governments are in charge of the very policies, and money, that can make or break the future of threatened species across Australia,” Professor Watson said.
“Tools like this help start this conversation about taking action.”
QUT interaction designer Dr Nick Kelly said the project was a great example of how interdisciplinary collaboration can lead to more people in the general public engaging with important scientific findings.
“By marrying science and interaction design, we can better tackle complex public-interest issues faster than ever before,” Dr Kelly said.
“Similar tools could help us tackle a range of scientific challenges by better informing and inspiring the public. Now, through the final weeks of this election campaign, we’re hoping that Threatened Australians makes it clear to those seeking power that our threatened species need immediate protection.”