A new initiative of the BC Wildlife Federation will help to residents to report environmental abuses with the touch of a screen app.

Smile, you may be on camera

New smartphone apps have the potential of identifying environmental scofflaws

  • Sep. 15, 2017 2:15 p.m.

Tim Collins / News staff

Citizens who are concerned about the environment and those whose actions threaten that environment now have a new weapon in their pockets.

The BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) has launched a new app to make it easier for people who witness a threat to the environment to report it immediately to the appropriate agency.

“We’ve been working on this for nearly two years and now we’re ready to make this happen. We’ve given people the ability to report situations in real time and make certain those reports go to the appropriate agency,” said Jesse Zeman, the spokesperson for the BCWF resident priority program, adding that the app allows outdoor enthusiasts with smartphones to take geo-referenced, time staped photos or videos to report issues rlated to the abuse of B.C.’s natural resources.

“The app gives British Columbians’ another tool to protect our natural resources for future generations and it will increase the ability of enforcement agencies to respond in a targeted way.”

The new tool was created by the Spatial Information for Community Engagement (SPICE) lab at the University of British Columbia and is a mapping website that can display environmental abuses submitted by users, thereby increasing awareness about the threats to the natural resources in the province. The app also reports those abuses, in real time, to the appropriate agency, based on the input from the app user.

“Our server looks at the report and the options selected by theuser and makes certain that the report gets directly to the right agency,” said Zeman.

After launching the app a few months ago, the BCWF has already seen more than 4,000 downloads of the app, all prior to launching of the current campaign to inform the public about the new service.

“Our goal is to see 20,000 Conservation App users by the end of the year”, said Zeman.

Already the user reports filed through the app have led to multiple fines, investigations and charges–right across the province.

Another feature of the app is that it allows users the choice to make their report public, a feature intended to raise awareness of the issues and help prevent future violations. If the user chooses to file their report publicly, a BCWF moderator will then examine the report to determine if it should be placed on the public website, a move that has the potential of identifying those offenders who are threatening the enviornment.

Doug Forsdick, Chief Conservation Officer, B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said the COS appreciates the new smartphone app.

“British Columbians are passionate about protecting their environment, wildlife and natural resources. We welcome more eyes and ears across the province to help guard against illegal activities that can harm our ecosystems and beautiful natural spaces. Thank you to the BC Wildlife Federation for bringing public awareness to ongoing conservation efforts.”

To download the app for iPhone visit the apple app store or, for Android phones go to Google play to download the apps. Simply type in “conservation App’ and it will pop up for download at no cost.

(Editor’s note: the BCWF app is not designed to report wildfires.)

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