Friday, 15 March 2013

Developing Biodiversity - Is anybody out there?

Developers and designers applying their skills to ecology and biodiversity in general seem to be a small, select group.

Google Trends shows a high increase in searches for ‘hackathon’ since 2011.  Set against this are erratic results for ‘biodiversity software’, since 2007, and steady declines in ‘ecology software’, ‘taxonomic software’ and ‘computational biology’ since 2005.

While there seems to be an increasing number of computational biology degree programs offered throughout the world, the application towards ecology and biodiversity receives little or no mention as a career path possibility (on degree websites at least).

Events such as this weekends env[:hack] in Bristol, organised between Environment Agency, Ordnance Survey and Geeks of London, are to be welcomed. The role of these events, which attract not only experienced but beginner developers and designers, is fundamental in showcasing the potential importance such skills can play in helping the planet in its biodiversity challenges.

The env[:hack] event expects to attract 80+ developers and designers from all experience levels. Clearly people with an interest are out there, do we just need to be more specific about the opportunities relating to ecology and biodiversity?

At Thomson Ecology, we are always on the look out for talented and enthusiastic people with ideas they want to develop or share. So if you fancy going against the trend (Google Trends anyway), then feel free to make contact. 

env[:hack] - 

Photo: jurvetson (Flickr) - A map of ocean temperature variation and some of the Sorcerer II sample sites


  1. Good article. One point to bear in mind is that Google Search trends must be interpreted with caution. Since the data show only relative search volume, an apparent decline does not necessarily mean that search volume for a particular term has decreased. It only means that the volume has declined relative to overall searches. Since use of Google Search has increased anyway, that means that a search term for which the actual number of searches remains constant, or even increases slightly, can show a decline in relative volume.

    ~ Roger Harris

  2. Thank you Roger. I will certainly bear that in mind.