BirdLife’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) work has created the largest network of key sites for biodiversity. 12,000 sites worldwide. BirdLife wanted to embrace mobile technology and provide a way for people to communicate about these sites via an iPhone app. They did not know what this app might do so turned to Peek for inspiration on how they could engage with a diverse audience across the World.

Peek reviewed the vast database of information about the IBAs available from the 120 BirdLife partners and explored how the key information may be transferred onto a mobile platform that was quick, informative and interactive. The data was challenging in its quantity and format especially the polygon information that made up the boundaries of the IBAs as they are not areas defined by physical boundaries, but more by topical features. Plus they are constantly changing and growing with the data continuously being updated.

Peek presented to BirdLife the concept of a NatureWatch App that would help people to plan their wildlife adventures, share their experiences and help conserve some of the best sites for wildlife in the world. The App combines a bespoke social media platform and interactive map of each country and IBA to identify where the IBA boundaries are. Users can post images and messages of their sightings from within the IBAs and report threats in real time. Users can find out where they are in an IBA by checking on the interactive map that uses the GPS on the iPhone to pinpoint them. With so many IBAs in locations that had little or no wi-fi or network coverage it was important that users could create their messages in the field and then send them when connectivity returned.

Peek didn’t want any barriers for users of the app so used quick access using Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to sign in protocols. The App is databased and managed online by the BirdLife team via a custom CMS platform to enable the data to be synchronised with the master database they hold.

NatureWatch is currently piloting in 6 countries covering 533 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas: Fiji, South Africa, Australia, Cyprus, Lebanon and Malaysia.

 Available from the App Store here.