The app uses a visual database to identify objects, whilst taking into consideration factors such as prevailing currents, tides and weather patterns
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Spotted: An app currently in development at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) determines where shoreline plastic rubbish comes from.
The app is intended to be utilised primarily by clean-up crews, although it could also be used by members of the public walking along the shoreline, who will be able to use the app to photograph any plastic waste they notice and enter its GPS coordinates.
A visual database will be accessible in the app, that will identify what the object is. The app also takes into consideration factors such as prevailing currents, tides and weather patterns, so it will be able to determine the approximate oceanic route of the item that led it to end up where it did.
If there are sources along that route that could be suspected of such waste, they can be paid a visit by municipal authorities. Areas where plastics are accumulating more often could also be prioritised for clean-up efforts.
“Actions to clean up plastic don’t do much good if you don’t deal with the sources of the plastic at the same time,” says PhD candidate Christina Hellevik, who is part of the app development team. “It’s urgent to find the sources of the plastic, and to make good decisions.”
Once completed development, the app will be tested by 100 people during the Norwegian ocean-rubbish-picking project. It should be ready for a roll-out to the public by next spring (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Written By: Katrina Lane