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Using Pinterest to collect and collate observational data

There are so many ways to collect data in today’s online world that simply weren’t available even 10 years ago. Information can now be collated in many different ways from even the remotest locations.

Observation is a data collection method that has been around for a while. One example of this methodology is the use of photos taken at regular intervals to record changes of land use over time. A particularly useful method for Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects focusing on land rehabilitation.

With digital photography, already it is easier to collect this data but sending large files via email can be restrictive (bouncing emails, inbox limits etc) and not everyone finds it easy to access online file sharing services.

And this is where Pinterest could be helpful. The site is all about sharing images, which makes it an ideal way to collate (using boards), sort and share photography.

Taking the above example of an NRM project, say a catchment area is being rehabilitated and Farmers participating in the project are asked to capture observations (with a set of guidelines) of change over time. The project officer could set up a Pinterest profile and create a series of boards which Farmers add photos to (including short written notes).

You would then be able to very easily see the changes over time in one space. It would also be compelling evidence for funders showing changes made and goals met.  And I’m sure those participating would enjoy seeing the results of their efforts so well represented.

The photos could be collated in a number of different ways depending on the reporting needs of the project including:

  • Monthly/seasonal boards – useful grouping change over time, helping comparison across Farms
  • A board per Farmer recording their observations
  • Boards focused around practices (e.g. tree planting)
  • Boards focused around plant types (e.g. grasses, shrubs)
  • Boards focused around benefits and outcomes

The same idea could be applied to programs focused around increasing production. Photos could be taken before, during and after the new/changed practice have been implemented. Ideally benefits and outcomes would be captured – for example decreased pesticide use or more available fodder for livestock.

Let your imagination go and be creative with data collection (of course while maintaining rigour). It doesn’t have to be that boring job that everyone procrastinates over.