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Swaner project leverages visitors’ smartphone photos for science

Installations to create time-lapse records of nature

The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter has installed two Chronologs, the first ones in Utah. The devices allow members of the public to submit photos of the same location to an online database, where they will be stitched together into what officials hope will be a scientifically useful, crowd-sourced time-lapse display.
Courtesy of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter

The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter has embarked on a citizen science mission featuring two first-in-Utah installations that organizers hope will turn smartphone photos into a scientifically useful, crowd-sourced time-lapse display.

The two “Chronologs” feature a bracket on top of a post with a sign instructing people to place their phone in the bracket, take a photo and then email it to a website, where it will be stitched together with others to show how the landscape changes over time.

The bracket ensures the photos consistently show the same subject, and Swaner Preserve officials say they hope to use the time-lapse creation to study vegetation changes, snowpack, river flow and other areas of interest.



“It’s really neat,” said Nell Larson, director of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. “We’re always really excited to find new ways to interact with the community. This is a way they can help support us that’s hopefully pretty easy.”

There are two sites, Larson said, one looking south across the preserve from a kiosk near Highland Drive and the other on Stealth trail on the north side of Interstate 80 overlooking East Canyon Creek.



One Chronolog looks south across the preserve from a kiosk near Highland Drive and the other is on Stealth trail on the north side of Interstate 80 overlooking East Canyon Creek. These photos include a beaver dam analog, and officials hope the time-lapse photos will allow scientists to see the effects of the analogs on the stream and nearby vegetation.
Courtesy of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter

In the latter location, the photos will include a beaver dam analog, a sort of human-created facsimile of the type of dam beavers make. Larson said the hope is the time-lapse photos will allow scientists to see the effects of the analogs on the stream and nearby vegetation.

The Chronologs were installed in late April and the photo collections have already started to grow. The time-lapse videos are available at chronolog.io/.


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