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.

Alun Salt. ORCID 0000-0002-1261-4283

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?