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Monitoring App for Android

New App for monitoring forest exploitation in the Republic of Congo (RoC)

Get the Beta version
(click here to download)


Key to app images (pdf)
This mobile application enables local communities to use a smartphone to compile and send a report on forest activity around their village. To ensure the app can be used by non-literate people and across language barriers, its user interface does not feature any text or numbers and is instead entirely icon driven. The reports can include photos with the potential to embed GPS locations, time and date, report different types of situations such as logging activity, social conflict, (damage to) local resources and other observations. Verbal reports can also be recorded onto the phone and submitted.

Data transmission from the phone can happen either through SMS (using the local mobile network) or via the Internet when a connection (Wi-Fi or GPRS/3G) is available. Data is received by another phone held by a national monitoring NGO and the reports should be used to direct monitoring by both NGOs and government officials so that the forest laws can be better enforced. In the currently deployed version of the App in Congo a copy of the data is also forwarded to UCL ExCiteS, who co-developed the app, for research purposes.

The app was developed over the last 8 months in collaboration with the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) group at University College London. The icons featuring in the app have been designed through an iterative participatory process during multiple field visits to the RoC. The software itself was built using a mobile data collection platform that is being developed by UCL ExCiteS. In the near future the source code of said platform will be released under the terms of the Apache 2 open source license.

This joint effort of Forests Monitor and UCL ExCiteS demonstrates how modern ICT can be used by local people in the Congo Basin to participate in the monitoring and reporting of forest exploitation in their own region, even if they are unable to read and write.
You can download the app here to see what it looks like. Remember that this is an icon-driven app for use in the RoC, so normally would not be distributed publically via the Internet or an App Store (e.g. Google Play). Please note that this is a “beta” version (i.e. it may not work properly on all devices) which is intended solely for demonstration purposes (i.e. not for actual field work). Hence the data transmission function has been disabled – as well as various configuration options. The demonstrator app is presented for visibility reasons and to encourage other organisations to take up this exciting method of empowering local people to engage in the protection of their local environment. The app would normally be presented to those that would undertake the monitoring in a workshop environment where participants would be taught how to use its various functions. Training materials are in preparation and will be uploaded shortly.

Requirements: Running the app requires a device with version 2.3 or higher of the Android operating system.

 Instructions: The app is simple to use once you know what the pictures mean. You can download the Guide to help you. You will see that the guide pdf has two parts, the first part gives you the picture key, and the second part tells you their order of appearance. You can click through the relevant pictures to give a detailed view of the situation being recorded – use the guide to help with finding the picture meanings. You will see that many of the options would give the opportunity to attach an audio or visual clip to give more detail on the situation.

Additional thoughts from REM: When implementing projects to monitor the exploitation of forests in the Congo Basin, one of the most important resources is accurate, often local information. With this in mind, REM approached UCL ExCiteS to develop a mobile phone application that could be used by local people to report logging and other forest based activity in the Republic of Congo. Care should always be taken however to protect the sources of information where they may be at risk of intimidation or abuse. Those providing the information should understand what it will be used for and any potential risks that participating in such a project may bring.

DISCLAIMER: The app offered for download here is intended solely for demonstration purposes and no support is implied. Installation and usage of the app is at the user’s risk. Forest Monitor and UCL ExCiteS cannot be held liable for any problems caused.



Funder's Site: EuropeAid Co-operation Office Home Page This project is implemented with financial assistance from the European Union, for an amount of 1,600,000 Euros, and the Department for International Development, for an amount of 400,000 Euros. Its content is the sole responsibility of Forests Moniter, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or DfID.

This page was last updated on 7th June 2013.
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