Blaugust 24: Crowdsourced Citizen Science with Crickets

During my Smart Cities Future Learn Course, the difficulties of getting getting people involved in data collection involved came up several times, and I even discussed gamification for projects in this post earlier in August.

So I wanted to share a university project I’ve found where the researchers gamified their data collection in order to deal with a massive amount of data – about crickets!

The Unviersity of Exeter are currently performing a vast, long-term experiment on a population of Field Crickets in Northern Spain, in order to study their evolutionary biology. This involves tagging crickets with numbers and setting up a network of cameras to cover every burrow they can find to collect data on the cricket’s daily habits. Of course, this has produced hundreds of hours of video, much of which is useless if the crickets aren’t around, and a small group of researchers don’t have time to watch all of it. So how to find the important parts?

This is where Cricket Tales comes in.

This website provides you with a virtual meadow marked with burrow locations and ‘houses’ which players can build by watching and tagging a certain number of videos, sort of like FourSquare in which you can make yourself the ‘owner’ of a certain spot. I haven’t played for very long, but it also seems like the longer you play at a certain burrow, the more elaborate your ‘house’ becomes.

After a short tutorial, you can then choose any burrow to watch short videos from. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can choose a particular button on the side to note an action at a certain point in the video. Many of the videos have little to no action in, so this is an effective, gamified way for the researchers to identify behaviours more quickly.

Pressing buttons when you see an action allows you to tag the video. This shows up in a newsfeed that all players can see


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