Ash dieback: the app

The arrival of Ash dieback in the UK can now be tracked with a new app for iOS and Android. But it’s not all bad news. People using the app won’t have to passively watch the spread of the disease. They can help stop it.

Ashtag screen grab

Toby Hammond of the Adapt Group at the UEA, said: “One of the biggest problems faced by forest conservationists is how to track the spread of the disease and act swiftly to reduce the impact of outbreaks. There isn’t the manpower to do it.

“But this app means we can harness the mass power of the general public to tell us where outbreaks are happening.

“We realised that time really is of the essence if we are to safeguard our forests. The spread is very fast moving so our team has worked around the clock to get the app up and running.

“We hope that thousands of people, from school groups and nature lovers to dog walkers and farmers, will use the app help to spot and report any sightings of the ash dieback so the disease can be contained.”

As well as camera integration, uploading and geo-tagging technology, the app also comes with identification guides to help users know what they are looking for.

“One of the technical challenges is to minimise false reports through the system,” he added. “We don’t want the already over-stretched agencies like the Forestry Commission being overwhelmed with reports of ‘brown leaves’, but we believe technology can help here, and have some great plant experts helping with diagnosis.”

You can find out more about the app at www.ashtag.org or follow the developers on Twitter at @Ashtag_Adapt.

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About Alun Salt

When he's not the web developer for AoB Blog, Alun Salt researches something that could be mistaken for the archaeology of science. His current research is about whether there's such a thing as scientific heritage and if there is how would you recognise it?