Apps for Community Science

New technologies are continually shaping the way we collect data in the field, providing water quality monitors with new capabilities, and increasing the amount, variety, and quality of data being collected. While we at River Network are not capable of continually scanning equipment manufacturers, universities, water tech entrepreneurs, and the thousands of innovative groups collecting water data on the ground, we do try to capture the advances we encounter through working with partners and members nationwide.

Apps for smartphones and tablets are being created to make monitoring our waterways very cost effective and easy. Many apps are available for free, or at a very low cost for both iOS and Android users. Some apps rely on capturing photos, some do calculations for you, and others are made specifically for monitoring instruments.


Collector lets you bring the power of ArcGIS into the field by taking your maps and data offline and then syncing your newly collected data once you are back in the office. Collect points, lines, and polygons, fill out forms, and add photos all while in the field. To use, you must have a smartphone or tablet and an ArcGIS organizational account.

Mobile Water Management

Measure water levels, ground water levels, gate/intake openings and water quality with the click of the button using the Mobile Water Management app. Flow can be computed automatically by clipping a smartphone to a weir stick or by taking a picture of a staff gauge upstream of a measurement flume. Data collected can be automatically added to their Water Information System. No equipment or field sheets are necessary with the use of this app. Available for iOS and Android.

Survey 123

Create forms for use in the field with Survey 123 for ArcGIS that will automatically sync with your ArcGIS account. You can easily collect data in the field and add photos to the forms that will replace paper copies in the field. You must have an ArcGIS account to use Survey 123 and is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Water SCIENCE Monitor

The Water SCIENCE Monitor performs analysis of inexpensive chemical water quality tests, enabling students to evaluate the health of water bodies near their schools and share, map, and visualize the data online. While this app was developed for school use, it would be applicable for citizen science groups to collect and share data. Developed by Concord Consortium and available for iOS and Android.

Stream Selfie

Stream Selfie is a citizen science project that creates an inventory of stream monitoring sites across the country. Using a smart phone or digital camera, citizens upload their photo and answer a few questions. Their site is then added to a map of monitoring sites from across the country. It was developed by the Izaak Walton League of America and is available for iOS, Android, and the web.

Swim Guide

Swim Guide is an app and website created and managed by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper where the public can access near recent water quality data for beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes. Each monitored swimming location contains an icon that gives users a quick indicator of water quality of meeting or failing water quality standards. Watershed organizations can can create sites and report their E. coli or coliform bacteria test results to be reported through the app. Available for iOS and Android.

Water Reporter

Water Reporter is akin to a water focused Instagram – users create profiles and are associated with specific watershed groups, and upload photos to show various conservation efforts (BMPs, restoration projects), potential pollution issues or areas in need of restoration, or just a pretty photo of a stream. When uploading photos, a comment about the photo and details such as location and group are added. The app is free to download for iOS and Android, however, interested watershed groups need to get set up with Chesapeake Commons, the developer of the app prior to use.


BloomWatch is an app developed by the EPA that relies of crowdsourcing to find and report potential cyanobacterial blooms. Users capture photos of the potential blooms and submit photos through the app. The information then gets sent to the relevant state agency for further investigation. All submissions are automatically added to an online database that users can browse to see where potential blooms have been located. The app is available for iOS and Android.


With FracTracker Alliance’s FracTracker app, you can check out their oil and gas map do see the activity near you, submit a report for an issue, and see other reports that people have submitted. The reports include photos, details about the associated industry, and what senses are impacted. The map includes wells, stations, and pipelines, which is useful for citizens, researchers, and nearby organizations to stay up to date on oil and gas activity near them.

Galveston Bay Action Network

Galveston Bay Foundation has developed the Galveston Bay Action Network  app where citizens report pollution incidents that occur within the four counties that touch the bay (Brazoria, Chambers, Harris, and Galveston counties). Citizens select the type of pollution, location, and municipality for each report, the report is then sent to the proper government agency for a direct response. Curious citizens can also see the different types of pollution events within the bay.