Crowd ID: Collaborative Tools Connecting People to Biodiversity through Social Networks and Machine Learning (Preproposal #0947206)

September 15th, 2010 - August 31st, 2013 | PROJECT

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is creating a new type of interactive, question-driven, online bird-identification tool called "Merlin," along with associated games, social networking tools, and other media. Unlike existing bird-identification guides, which are based on traditional taxonomic keys written by scientists, Merlin uses machine learning algorithms and crowd-sourced data (information provided by thousands of people) to identify birds and improve Merlin's performance with each interaction. The tool will help millions of people identify birds and participate in a collective effort to help others. The Crowd ID project will make it easier for people to discover the names of birds, learn observation and identification skills, find more information, and appreciate Earth's biodiversity. The summative evaluation plan is measuring increases in participants' knowledge, engagement, and skills, as well as changes in behavior. Impacts on participants will be compared to a control group of users not using Merlin. Merlin tools will be integrated into the Cornell Lab's citizen science and education projects, which reach more than 200,000 participants, schoolchildren, and educators across the nation. Merlin will be broadly adapted for use on other websites, social networking platforms, exhibits, mobile devices, curricula, and electronic field guides. Once developed, Merlin can be modified to identify plants, rocks, and other animals. Merlin will promote growth of citizen science projects which depend on the ability of participants to identify a wide range of organisms.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products
Poster - Merlin: An Online Wizard for Bird ID

Team Members

Miyoko Chu, Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Rick Bonney, Co-Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Steven Kelling, Co-Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Mirek Riedewald, Co-Principal Investigator, Northeastern University
Kate Haley Goldman, Evaluator, Audience Viewpoints Consulting


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010818
Funding Amount: 1326228


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Life science | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Public Programs | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media