The second in a series of story maps for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Tradition and the Art of Living China highlights the culture bearers appearing at the 2014 Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. Built by Blue Raster and Cricket Media, the map allows users to experience the artistry and heritage of those keeping China’s diverse traditions alive.
Although the map has since been removed from the web, it was created using ArcGIS Online. The story map integrates photographs of the Folklife Festival participants and their work. As a result, it offers a comprehensive look into the cultural heritage of China. From calligraphy and pottery, to martial arts, users worldwide can explore the unique stories of these tradition bearers.
The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and Cricket Media, an education media company and global learning network, recently invited kids from around the world to identify and interview people who exemplify important traditions in their communities, then asked them to document and present their stories.
Cricket Media and Blue Raster created the Traditions of the World story map using ArcGIS Online, highlighting the top video submissions from kids ages 8-18 from around the world. The result is an interactive virtual field trip with lively hosts that include a 9 year old boy from West Bengal India showing traditional saris being hand woven and students in China documenting everything from dumpling making to martial arts.
The challenge was launched in coordination with the Smithsonian Center’s annual June-July Washington D.C.-based Folklife Festival and extends the folklife experience to millions of students globally. The Story Map has since been removed from the web.
“The challenge inspired students to explore the richness of their local traditions and unique stories of tradition bearers, and the map created by Blue Raster captured this amazing student work in an engaging way that will preserve these traditions for generations to come,” said Cricket Media CEO, Katya Andresen. “It’s a truly unique, global digital museum, curated by kids.”
Blue Raster is pleased to announce the completion of the second phase of eMammal, a collaboration between researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The objective of eMammal is to document the effect of recreational use of conservation areas on animal populations. To help in the effort, citizen scientists have joined forces with the researchers to deploy camera traps near and off trails of popular parks like Shenandoah National Park and Catoctin Mountain Park. They then retrieve and process the images collected using tools created by Blue Raster in the initial phase of the project.
The first season was a huge success with over 1 million photos collected, the species identified, and the images archived and awaiting review by the researchers. With the prospect of another 3 million photos on the way with the coming second season, Smithsonian asked Blue Raster to build an Expert Review Tool that would allow them to review the images and subsequent metadata from the first season.
By verifying the camera trap deployment images and data as well as locations, scientists for eMammal hope to document and map species ranges and population statistics. With the success of the first Mid-Atlantic season, the collective team at the Smithsonian Institution, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Blue Raster looks to scale eMammal to be used in other regions across the US and worldwide. The images and data collected will help answer questions about mammal distribution and abundance, aiding the efforts of wildlife conservation.
eMammal is a project where citizen scientists work in collaboration with researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to document mammals throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and soon, the entire country. Citizen volunteers place “camera traps”, infrared activated cameras, across the landscape in parks and other natural areas to collect photos of mammals. These photos help researchers answer questions about mammal distribution and abundance and use this information for conservation.
The first phase of this project was the Smithsonian Wild prototype funded through a grant which has evolved into eMammal. To help manage the new camera trap data, Blue Raster and partner Orion Creative Group built a camera trap management and identification system. Deployed on Drupal 7, the system manages volunteer and camera trap data for the research team. An Adobe AIR Desktop application allows citizen scientists to identify ‘captured’ animal photos and upload to the image repository in Amazon S3. Then the camera trap photos and metadata are collected by eMammal scientists and analyzed.
“eMammal is at the cutting edge intersection of the new technologies surrounding cloud computing and “big data” and the time honored tradition of citizens volunteering to help conservation efforts,” said Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Conservation Biologist, Tavis Forrester, Ph.D.
The next phase of eMammal will be the creation of a robust website where photos will be displayed along with project site information. Crowd sourcing for species identification will also be explored. Keep an eye out in 2013 for these great additions to the eMammal project. Visit http://facebook.com/eMammal to see a sampling of the best photos and keep up to date on our progress.
This web site offers the public a unique opportunity to observe over 250 different species in their natural habitats throughout the world. Motion-activated ‘camera traps’ placed in various regions across the globe capture over 201,000 still images and ‘near-video’ sequences of animals as they pass. Robert Costello, a national outreach program manager for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, hopes visitors to the site “feel a sense of anticipation and excitement, like the researchers, as they explore photographs of wildlife taken in the absence of human beings and often at very short distances.”