We’ve passed 100,000,000 verifiable observations on iNaturalist! · iNaturalist

“If you made 1,000 observations a day, every day, it would take you 274 years to generate 100 million observations. This milestone shows what people can do by working together. The iNaturalist dataset is something we’ve all made together, but it’s larger than any one of us. We hope everyone is as proud of this accomplishment as we are. Together, the iNaturalist community has created a unique window into life on Earth and hundreds of thousands of species with whom we share the planet. Thank you!

We know that even more potential for iNaturalist lies ahead. To fulfill our mission of connecting people to nature and advancing science and conservation, we’re working on a strategy to reach 100 million naturalists by 2030. This requires investing in technology improvements, so we’re now searching for two new software engineers to join the iNat team. Please spread the word to help us find great candidates….”

How research is being transformed by open data and AI | Popular Science

“How iNaturalist can correctly recognize (most of the time, at least) different living organisms is thanks to a machine-learning model that works off of data collected by its original app, which first debuted in 2008 and is simply called iNaturalist. Its goal is to help people connect to the richly animated natural world around them. 

The iNaturalist platform, which boasts around 2 million users, is a mashup of social networking and citizen science where people can observe, document, share, discuss, learn more about nature, and create data for science and conservation. Outside of taking photos, the iNaturalist app has extended capabilities compared to the gamified Seek. It has a news tab, local wildlife guides, and organizations can also use the platform to host data collection “projects” that focus on certain areas or certain species of interest. 

When new users join iNaturalist, they’re prompted to check a box that allows them to share their data with scientists (although you can still join if you don’t check the box). Images and information about their location that users agree to share are tagged with a creative commons license, otherwise, it’s held under an all-rights reserved license. About 70 percent of the app’s data on the platform is classified as creative commons. “You can think of iNaturalist as this big open data pipe that just goes out there into the scientific community and is used by scientists in many ways that we’re totally surprised by,” says Scott Loarie, co-director of iNaturalist. …

But with an ever-growing amount of data, our ability to wrangle these numbers and stats manually becomes virtually impossible. “You would only be able to handle these quantities of data using very advanced computing techniques. This is part of the scientific world we live in today,” Durant adds….

Another problem that researchers have to consider is maintaining the quality of big datasets, which can impinge on the effectiveness of analytics tools. This is where the peer-review process plays an important role….”


iNaturalist Systems architect

“To do this, we need your help to keep iNaturalist’s infrastructure scaling. We’d like to start by offering a 5-month contract to help research, design, and implement improvements or alternatives to help iNaturalist’s core infrastructure, such as our search functionality, to perform at larger scales. We expect to hire a full-time systems architect at the end of the contract period. Depending on the applicant, there may be a possibility to transition from one role to another. POSITION SUMMARY: The systems architect will work alongside our team of five other developers including the member of our team chiefly responsible for dev-ops. The work can be done remotely, but the position will require working closely with the iNaturalist team through weekly iteration meetings and daily Slack and Github communication. The work will require forking and setting up local instances of the iNaturalist infrastructure, implementing changes to the infrastructure, testing at production scales, and helping apply changes to iNaturalist’s production systems. More specifically, we’re looking for someone with experience and ideas to try in order to ensure that iNaturalist users continue to receive fast responses to search queries at larger scales, and will do the work to implement and test these improvements. Search functionality is core to iNaturalist and impacts the response time of most parts of the platform and most new features we have planned. Our goal at the end of this contract is to have an implementation that either performs better than our current system at our current scale, or performs as good as our current system at larger scales….”