Starting in 2013, senior design teams from Iowa State University have worked in cooperation with Reiman Gardens to develop the Unified Butterfly Recorder (UBR) application. The UBR application provides a modern software solution to assist professional and citizen scientists with the collection and analysis of butterfly survey data. Team UBR1 focused on creating an Android application which surveyors could use in the field to conduct surveys and record detailed information about butterfly sightings. UBR2 followed up by starting work on the iOS equivalent. At the beginning of our project, the two apps were restricted to local storage and provided no tools for data aggregation or analysis.
Our team (UBR3) was tasked with building a cloud-based data storage, distribution, and analysis platform for survey information gathered by the existing apps. In short, we created the server portion of the UBR application suite. The primary goals of the server were to provide the mobile applications with interfaces to upload and view survey data submitted by users to a remote database, to provide an interface for associated organizations to access their data for use in their own databases, to allow users to analyze their data online, to allow users to download their data in a variety of useful formats, and to allow users to share their data with organizations. To earn support from outside organizations, our system also needed to be simple and easy to adopt.
To accomplish our goals, we developed a two-part solution collectively forming the UBR server. The first part was a database which, using a simple web interface, allowed users to read and write their own survey data. The database also included an authentication system and an organization management system which users could use to form groups and aggregate data. The second part to the UBR server solution was a website (affectionately named "MyUBR") which, in addition to providing interfaces for accessing data, provided analytics tools and options to export the data to supported formats for local analysis. The primary features of the UBR server have been completed, but the UBR3 team is continuing efforts to support and improve the UBR server post-graduation.
The documents below reflect the design plans and development process used by the UBR3 team during our senior design course.