Organisatie - 28 september 2017

Wageningen apps

tekst:
Didi de Vries,Tessa Louwerens

Apps are the new Holy Grail, in Wageningen as elsewhere. There are education apps, harvest apps, pig apps, nature apps, nutrition apps, growth apps and fish apps. Resource took a trip through the forest of WUR apps and selected 10 which are accessible to a wider audience. The creators of these apps discuss their strengths and weaknesses.

Photo Pascal Tieman

GrowApp

Provided by Nature Today
Number of downloads: 1000-5000
Latest update: May 2017

This app provides a window into the growth of plants. Using your smartphone, you can take photos of trees, plants and landscapes at different moments. The GrowApp collects all the photos and makes time-lapse videos which reveal changes. Fun to do, and you help scientists who study the effect of climate change on nature and landscapes.

Biologist Arnold van Vliet: ‘By now more than 15,000 photos have been uploaded with the GrowApp. We already had snapshots and satellite images, but through the app we now get new insights, about the start and length of the growing season, for instance. Like this, we researchers can collect a lot more data. It is nice for users too to see the environment change and to be able to contribute to scientific research. As an app maker, you do have to keep on informing and encouraging your audience. However fantastic your app, if nobody knows of its existence, it is no use to you.’

Hapsnapp

Provided by WUR
Number of downloads: 1000-5000
Last update: September 2015

Hapsnapp shares nutritional facts and figures with you which are based on scientific knowledge at WUR. Users indicate what they are eating and the app tells them interesting fact about their food.

Communication advisor Susanne Laven: ‘We developed Hapsnapp because we wanted more online interaction with the wider community, as part of Wageningen Dialogues. The app provides ways of sharing scientific facts, but you can’t really interact with users. From surveys we learn that people do use the information in their conversations with others though. We aimed at a young target group, but it turns out the app is mainly used by older people. The app was quite popular at first and still gets downloaded now, but we are not going to update it again. It will probably be withdrawn next year. We have learned a lot from it. In communication it is important to think about your aim and the best channel for achieving it. Sometimes that is an app, but there are other possibilities too, such as a good mobile version of your website and an online dialogue.’

How fresh is your fish?

Provided by Relectus
Number of downloads: 1000-5000
Last update: 16 August 2013

This app helps you determine how fresh your fish is. The app asks questions such as ‘is the skin shiny’, ‘what do the eyes look like’ and ‘how firm is the fish?’ It also shows you photos which you can compare with the fish in front of you. The fish’s shelf life can then be determined using the internationally recognized Quality Index Method (QIM). The app also estimates how long the fish will keep.

Rian Schelvis-Smit of Wageningen Marine Research: ‘The app is part of a study on new methods for the industry for reliably determining how fresh fish is throughout Europe. At first we only had the method on paper, but in that form it didn’t reach the industry. Consumers can use the app too, but it is quite a long process so I can’t see people going to go through all those steps standing in the supermarket.’

Nature in the Netherlands

Provided by Shoudio
Number of downloads: 10,000-50,000
Last update: January 2015

With this app you can download walking, cycling or sailing routes. The app uses GPS to guide you from one lovely spot to another. At a location it offers brief information, sometimes supplemented with bird calls or pictures of the main animal and plants species to be found here.

Frank Berendse, professor of Nature Management and Plan Ecology: ‘The app was based on my book Natuur in Nederland. The nice thing is that people with the app really do go out and experience what is described in the book. I’ve travelled all the routes in it myself and at several points along the route either my wife or I say something about what there is to see at that spot. I would like to add more routes, but it is important to keep the routes up to date too, because the landscape changes. So I need to check them at least once a year. It’s hard to keep up with that so we are setting up a network of volunteers to help us.’

FoodProfiler

Provided by WUR
Number of downloads: 5000-10,000
Last update: December 2016

Curious what kind of eater you are? The FoodProfiler gives you an insight into your eating habits, without you having to keep a detailed food diary. Once a day you get a reminder to fill in what you have eaten in the last couple of hours. The app then responds with scientific facts about nutrition.

Marleen Onwezen, Consumer Behaviour researcher at Wageningen Economic Research: ‘We launched the app because we wanted to see how we could use new techniques to get more insight into consumption patterns. The advantage of the smartphone is that you can spring questions on people at random moments instead of asking them to recall what they ate last week, for instance. This produces more reliable data. We use the app for studies with representative sample groups, but people can also use it on a voluntary basis. It’s nice for consumers to get more of an idea about their eating habits, but the app also gives government bodies, companies and researchers new insights in things like when people eat and what combinations of foods they eat.’

Weather experience

Provided by SWLA
Number of downloads: 5000-10,000
Last update: May 2016

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. You put on shorts and a shirt, but as soon as you get outside you regret it: the bitter wind soon gives you goose pimples. You can avoid these kinds of nasty surprises with the Weerbeleving app. Instead of the current weather forecast, the app tells you how the weather feels.

Bert Heusinkveld on Weerbeleving: ‘We developed the app because research showed that traditional weather forecasts are not enough for people to know how hot or cold it actually feels. A planned development of the Weerbeleving app is an inbuilt feedback option, with which users can report straightaway whether they feel warmer or colder that the app suggests. That gives the app up-to-the-minute information with which to fine-tune its information on users’ weather experience.’

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Ambrosia Alert

Provided by WUR
Number of downloads: 1000-5000
Last update: August 2014

With this app you can see how close you are to a pollen-producing ambrosia plant. Handy for hay fever sufferers. If you come across this plant, you can report it using the app, which passes it on to the Natuurkalendar, a website with an online database which is used for scientific research on the impact of climate change on nature. The map in the app shows all the sites where ambrosia has been seen since 2006.

Biologist Arnold van Vliet on the Ambrosia Alert: ‘This app is not kept up to date. The topic might be a bit too obscure and ambrosia grows in too few places. There is only a small group of people that use the app and it costs too much time and money to keep them involved and informed all the time.’

Natura 2000

Provided by the ministry of Economic Affairs
Number of downloads: unknown
Last update: unknown

Nature 2000 is a network of EU-designated conservation areas where important plant and animal species are found. Wageningen Environmental Research developed the Natura 2000 app at the behest of the ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ). In it you can see the size and boundaries of a conservation area, and watch videos about the various Natura 2000 areas. Users can also add their own films and photos, and share them on social media. Natura 2000 is a separate section of the Layar app, and works with augmented reality, which means that an extra layer of images is added to create a virtual world.

Stephan Hennekens, researcher in Vegetation, Forest and Landscape Ecology at Wageningen Environmental Research: ‘The Layar app can still be downloaded, but the Natura 2000 part of it isn’t working at present. As soon as EZ is willing to invest in it, I can update the app. Because the app works with augmented reality, you can see in a virtual world how far the Natura 2000 area extends in all directions.’

Statistical Support

Provided by WUR
Number of downloads: 100-500
Last update: February 2014

Feeling a bit out of your depth with statistics? Use this app to find out which statistical test you should use. By going through a list of questions, you arrive at precisely which test you need to apply to your data. There is also an extensive dictionary of statistical terms.

Fred de Boer, of the Resource Ecology chair group; ‘Statistical Support was developed for Ecological Methods 1. It is an extra, a memory aid. Not all students who take the course actually use the app. So it is not an overwhelming success; we won’t take the world by storm with it. Statistics is boring, but with little extras like this app we try and make it just a bit more appealing.’

W’App or Welcome App

Provided by WUR
Number of downloads: 100-500
Last update: July 2017

The W’App, or Welcome App, was specially designed to help international students find their way around Wageningen in their first few weeks. The app provides information about the town, Dutch culture, public transport, healthcare and much more.

Debby Los of International Students Advice: ‘The same questions keep coming up in emails from international students, so we thought it would be helpful to collect the answers somewhere. Then prospective students have access to this information before they start their degree programmes. And we shall update the information a couple of times a year, and perhaps in future add a community function so that people can get in touch with each other already.’

*The number of downloads is based on information from the Google Play Store.


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