The spectrum of Smartphone Apps in (marine) resource management

Published: 02 February 2017
Last edited: 08 August 2017

There is a wide spectrum of Smartphone Apps in (marine) resource management. This Block gives orientation in the app jungle, starting with definitions and background on smartphone and app usage, and the opportunities this provides e.g. for natural resource management.

 

Also, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, if the answer to “Isn’t there an app for this” is yes. A list provides an overview of different app types and examples from marine management and other sectors, with a special focus on the Pacific region.

Classifications

Category
Collection of baseline and monitoring data and knowledge
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Management planning
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Local
Subnational
National
Multi-national
Global
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

Mobile technology is on the rise and more and more people have access to these technologies, as the computing power of smartphones increases, their price drops, mobile phone coverage and access to the internet becomes more widespread and digital literacy is increasing - in industrialized world, as well as in developing and emerging economies.

Apps are bedoming more and more popular and can be powerful tools, if the addressed problem and objective of the proposed (app-) solution is well defined.

Lessons learned

While there are many enabeling factores that can turn apps into powerful tools, often however, novelty and technical feasibility can be deceiving. Digitizing a solution often merely digitizes the problem. Instead of just going with the fashion, the problem and objective of the proposed (app-) solution should be well defined, followed by a careful SWOT analysis and consideration of possible alternatives.

Specific benefits of apps could be, e.g. wide geographical reach, while a threat could be the lack of acceptance by certain audiences, depending e.g. on their cultural background and digital literacy.

Thus app development and use must be seen as strategic process. For such a strategic approach of app development, use and monitoring, it is crucial to identify the right type of app addressing the identified audience and objective, be it “citizen science”, “crowdsourcing”, engagement, education or individual data collection.