Coming to a park near you: This clever phone mount frames up a stunning photo... and helps you save local wildlife

Vibrant yellow and red poppies in the foreground leading to a panoramic view of a mountainous landscape with a clear blue sky, pine forests, and distant snow-capped mountains.

The next time you visit your favorite park, you might notice a Chronolog sign prompting you to take a picture. But this photo isn’t meant for social media — it’s for improving wildlife conservation efforts on a global scale. 

Chronolog is rapidly installing signs in parks, wetlands, and nature reserves around the world topped with phone-sized mounts, so that nature lovers can take picturesque landscape photos and submit them to community time-lapses. 

According to the program’s website, the 100,000-plus photo submissions have helped improve wildlife conservation efforts by allowing researchers to monitor nature sites from afar. 

Use cases include restoration projects conducted using citizen-backed data collection for erosion, water quality, wildfire and storm recovery, and animal migration. 

A TikTok screenshot of a person wearing a reflective vest stands at a trailhead, interacting with a signpost that instructions on it, surrounded by green foliage.
A volunteer indicates where to place a phone on a Chronolog sign in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Chronolog/TikTok

Chronolog recently shared a TikTok video in which a volunteer showed viewers how to participate in the community project. 

“Take your phone, making sure that your camera is on top, place it in this groove right here, and it’s gonna give us a picture of the lake,” explained the volunteer, as the camera looked out on a lake in Virginia’s Beaverdam Park. 

The volunteer reminded viewers to submit photos to Chronolog’s email address (upload@chronolog.io), which is provided on the sign alongside a unique subject heading specific to each monitor site. 

“That’s going to help us monitor for erosion, wildlife — such as our migratory waterfowl who’ve started arriving — and it’s going to help us protect our natural resources here in Gloucester county,” shared the volunteer. 

@chronolog.io People-powered time lapse of nature🤳🌄🦢 The community of Gloucester, Virginia is helping monitor the tundra swans and buffleheads of Beaverdam Park with just their smartphones! Tag your favorite park if they should do this 💚 #CommunityScience #ParticipatoryScience #CitizenScience #Chronolog #CoolChronolog #OptOutside #GloucesterCounty ♬ original sound - Chronolog

Nature-loving visitors can now help track the patterns of tundra swans and buffledams of Beaverdam, but the project is bigger than any one park. 

Chronolog has an online record of its community-made time lapses, so that anyone around the world can click around and spot birds in Shenandoah National Park or see golden fauna bloom on a reserve in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Associate professor Jon Schmitkons — who manages a network of six Chronolog stations at Binghamton University — said that the beauty of the tool is that it encourages people to interact with their local park sites. 

“In reality, there are probably ways you can collect data more efficiently,” Jon told Bing U News. “But then there’s the community engagement side of things, and that’s where the Chronologs are really useful: getting people to go out there and see sites they wouldn’t normally see or learn more about the places they walk past every day.”

Nature lovers hoping to install a Chronolog in their community can complete this interest form online.

Header image courtesy of Jay Huang

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March 13, 2024 2:04 PM
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