This guest post is by Parker Muzzerall, of Swim Drink Fish.
What is Swim Guide?
Created in 2011 by Swim Drink Fish Canada, Swim Guide is an international recreational water quality and beach information service available for free on iOS, Android, and the web. People everywhere have a hard time knowing whether their local waters are clean enough to swim. Swim Guide aims to help answer that question by providing current, reliable, and accessible information on recreational water quality. This helps people everywhere get in, on, or around the water with confidence.
Spanning oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams, Swim Guide has information for nearly 8000 beaches across 7 countries. Swim Guide makes it easy to find your favourite beach or to explore new ones. You get information about the beach, view photos, get directions, report pollution, and learn about historical and current water quality all in one place.
Without reliable and current data about recreational water quality, people are vulnerable to illness and infection. When water isn’t safe to touch people withdraw from it. And when the connection between us and our water fades, so does our instinct to protect it. By empowering people to stay informed about their local waters, they can connect and safeguard them with confidence.
Swim Guide Affiliate Program
Swim Guide is made possible through the Swim Guide Affiliates Program. Comprised of over 80 environmental groups, governmental agencies, universities, and more, the Swim Guide Affiliates program allows groups doing recreational water monitoring to use Swim Guide to share their test results. Many of these groups rely on citizen scientists to help carry out their monitoring programs. These include Savannah Riverkeeper in Georgia, Tijuana Waterkeeper in Baja Mexico, and Waterkeepers Bahamas, to name just a few.
By bringing recreational water quality information from all these incredible groups around world into one place, it makes the data more accessible. It wouldn’t be possible without the help of our global community of citizen scientists.
Swim Guide and Citizen Science
At Swim Drink Fish, citizen science is at the core of what we stand for: connecting people with water. Alongside Swim Guide, many of our other programs, such as Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Fraser Riverkeeper, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, and the Watermark Project, all rely on, and strive to enable, citizen science.
In an effort to increase our citizen science capacity, we have launched a new in-app feature that makes becoming a citizen scientist easier than ever.
The new Swim Guide Photo Submission Tool allows users to submit photos through the Swim Guide App to our new beach image database. Our hope is that over time, this database will serve as a valuable resource for understanding recreational water use and environmental change at thousands of beaches around the world.
Photos are incredibly important pieces of evidence. When Swim Guide users visit the beach they are in a unique position to easily document the environmental conditions around them. By doing this, they are contributing valuable data on recreational water use, pollution, environmental conditions, and more.
How the photo submission feature works
Swim Guide users can submit a photo in two ways through the iOS and the Android app:
- Click on a beach in the list or on the map in the app. Once on the beach page, click on the photo submission icon (pictured below) and choose “Submit Photos”
- Click the Add a Photo Icon.
- Take a photo of your beach, or swim spot.
- Add details on the report page about what you see, as well as your name and email information.
- Submit your photo by clicking “send”.
To make our database as valuable as possible, photos must include the water, the shoreline, and document recreational water use as much as possible. By doing this, recreational water users become citizen scientists.
Together we can work towards a future where we can all enjoy the benefits of connecting with water free from worry. We believe citizen science is integral to achieving that.