ALA's Record a Sighting function is still available and will continue for the time being, but we are asking our users to make a change and use iNaturalist Australia to record sightings. In iNaturalist they're called observations.
What will happen to the records in the ALA's "Record a Sighting" function?
All of the records contributed via the ALA's Record A Sighting function and the OzAtlas apps are regularly harvested over to the ALA's main database, so they won't be lost. Over time we will disable the creation of new records, and eventually we will remove the application.
What about the OzAtlas mobile app?
When we remove the "Record a Sighting" function, we will also remove the OzAtlas app from the app stores. We recommend that users download the iNaturalist mobile apps instead.
How long will this all take?
We won't remove the app until most of our users have made the switch to iNaturalist (or another platform). We'll contact our "Record a Sighting" users to help them make the transition. In the meantime if you would like help, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why is the ALA changing the way to upload and record observations?
Lots of people come to the ALA wanting to share what they've seen in nature and to contribute individual observations to our national biodiversity database. Previously, we've enabled people to do this via our "Record a Sighting" function and the OzAtlas mobile apps. Over the last 10 years, our ALA community has contributed over 100,000 records this way, which is an incredible effort.
However, one of the recurring problems with Record a Sighting and OzAtlas is that we are not able to help people identify their species. We do not have the expertise to identify species – our expertise is in aggregating data so that it's discoverable and reusable. We cannot verify each of the 100,000 sightings, and as a result there are issues with data quality.
We have chosen to work with iNaturalist.org to set up iNaturalist Australia so that our users can contribute better quality observations to the ALA. In addition to crowd sourced species identification, iNaturalist also has taxonomic experts throughout its community, and it continually improves tools like computer vision and data quality flags to help even novice users make records better.
Setting up the Australian node of iNaturalist is a wonderful opportunity for us and our users. It provides an easy-to-use desktop and mobile platform, fast species identification, effective data quality measures, and you can link your ALA and iNaturalist accounts.
Is iNaturalist Australia my only option for contributing sightings to the ALA now?
Absolutely not! There are many citizen science programs and apps that you can use to record sightings and have them vetted for species identification and data quality, and that regularly feed data into the ALA. Search or browse our Citizen Science Project Finder for more details.