discussion / Software and Mobile Apps  / 24 February 2023

Google Lens as a citizen's tool to report IWT

Hi all,  In the last couple of months I have started using the Google 'Lens' app on my Android phone and I have been really impressed at how quickly it identifies things, randomly seen, from orchids to lizards and snakes. A really nice, simple and easy-to-use boost to citizen science.

However, I am now wondering if we could not seek to get a simple  'Add-On' incorporated into the Google Lens app which would be country relevant (using the phone’s ‘Location’). This would allow Google Lens to not only tell somebody what they have photographed (as it does already) but, also, its national 'Status' ie whether it is a 'protected species.'  The 'add-on' should have a 'Report' button, using the phone location, to provide a phone number or email address of the nearest forestry agency so that people can easily make a report if they are concerned about something they have seen. 

I know some very specialist apps have been developed in recent years to help police, forest rangers and others identify illegally-traded wildlife and wildlife body parts, unfortunately these apps are often rather complicated to use and very specialist.  

I think most people know that tigers, elephants, orangutan (for instance) are protected species but in a mega biodiverse country like Indonesia  there are a huge number of lesser-known species that are also 'protected' under conservation law but where that status is not widely known to the general public.  Getting this add-on built into Google Lens, starting first in Indonesia (for instance) and then gradually expanding to other countries could be hugely valuable in helping people recognise and report IWT.