About Project Noah:

I came across the website through an advertisement on the National Geographic Website. Clicking on the link soon lead me to an interesting project that four NYU graduates have created. Entitled “Project Noah”, the experiment attempts to build a fun, location-based database mapping out wild-life intercations all around the world. The way Project Noah works is that anywhere at anytime, if you come across an organism, you take a picture of it, post it on the website, and attribute a location to where you spotted it. Oftentimes, members do not know the “official” names of the organisms that they take pictures of- but that is where the social networking aspect of Project Noah comes in. On the website, you can post and comment on the pictures by writing the name of the organism or general feelings toward the picture.

Another aspect of Project Noah is that it conveys the vast biodiversity around the world. With over 120,000 participants, and over millions of pictures uploaded, Project Noah serves as a catalog for speicies diversity and dispersion. Members can also participate in “missions”, which link all the classified organism pictures into a central location such as the National Saguaro Park. This helps scientists count and identify the certain species in the Park.

Project noah’s most notable feature is that it can be downloaded as an app, so pictures and categroizations can be uploaded easily and at any time. I see this whole project as a way to encourage people to reconnect with nature, documenting local wildlife, and creating “citizen-scientists”.


  1. I find the entire idea of Project Noah to be exciting as it provides a recreational way for anyone interested in science to engage with nature in a non destructive and educational way. The design of the project is pretty exceptional by itself. It allows participants to keep track of their ‘spottings’ through smart phone apps, identify species with a field guide and incentivizes participation through the earning of patches. Perhaps what is most powerful about Project Noah is the missions section of the site which allows scientists to transform citizens into field scientists, for free! An example of such a mission is Bio Blitz: Saguaro National Park where 128 participants got to work with National Geographic and National Park Services to do a 24 hour biodiversity count throughout the park. As site membership continues to grow Project Noah has the potential to be a powerful tool for educators and researchers while creating a global community for curious nature enthusiasts.

  2. I think Project Noah is a great way to help people reconnect with nature, even to a lesser degree. Since people are constantly downloading apps on their smartphones,creating an organism-cataloguing system through a phone app is actually a genius idea. I looked on the map to see if any pictures had been uploaded from around my area, and found a picture of an unnamed tree or shrub taken from a location in a town about five minutes away from me. I actually live in a fairly undeveloped region of the Cumberland plateau in the town of Sewanee, Tenn. People in Sewanee are very adamant about conserving nature and enjoying being outdoors. We actually have this rule that you’re not supposed to use your phone outside (strange concept, I know). If you’re talking on your phone while walking down the sidewalk, a biker might zoom past and shout “Save Sewanee,” at you. It’s just a reminder to not be so absorbed with technology and to enjoy the beauty of the area. So although the app could be put to great use in Sewanee, a beautiful, mountain covered in forest, I’m not sure many Sewaneesians would approve!
    -Avery Shackelford

  3. I am constantly amazed by how much we are progressing technologically on a day-to-day basis and this example is no exception. I think that if we really take project Noah seriously, we might even discover new species that might change our views on the geographic landscape. I personally am not much of a scientist so I love the fact that this gives curious citizens a chance to be a part of something greater than themselves, sceintifically! I think Avery highlights an interesting point when she speaks of the paradox between going out in nature, and bringing your technology along. We escape the technology of society only to bring it along with us into nature
    -Patrick Jones

  4. This project seeems like a great way to harness the power and popularity of smartphones to compile a meaningful database of the world’s biodiversity. I’m interested to see how far this idea evolves after 5-10 years because as long as people continue to use the app, the larger and more synoptic the database will be. However, as the project continues to grow it will require more and more technical experts to maintain the system; hopefully they continue with the idea and get enough funding in the future.

  5. Using everyday people as a means of data collection is brilliant! For one, it always for a large amount of data to be collected at minimal cost to the organizations using it. But also, the data collectors themselves are likely to get interested in ‘green projects’ and will be more willing to become involved in important projects. The one worry that I have is that some of the data might be unreliable; the data will be collected by amateur civilian scientist who might not have the knowledge or ability to provide reliable data.

  6. I think this is a really cool idea! It seems pretty quick and easy to snap a photo and upload it to this website, which hopefully will encourage more people to participate. I think it would be really neat to encorporate a website like this to education, say at the elementary or middle school level. It would be great if kids in their science classes could go out and actually catelog some of the wildlife that they see everyday and also help contribute to this site. it would really help to show that everybody can be a scientist. However, I think this site would need a lot more publicity and participation in order to be truly useful in showing biodiversity on a large scale.

  7. Thank you for the extremely interesting and thoughtful comments. I think that we can agree that we will see Project Noah split into two different types of phenomenon. Project Noah can become an extremely useful tool for scientists trying to get the public engaged in actually mapping species biodiversity throughout areas such as a National Parks. The second pathway that Project Noah will take is to serve as a pathway to reconnect people to nature. Regular people that do not know much about nature can be enlightened and informed about the different types of species that they are taking pictures of using Project Noah as a tool. It will be interesting to see which path will be more dominant in coming years.

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