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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Smithsonian Wild




Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and National Zoo


Blue Raster LLC


Research | Online Collection


206,340 wildlife photos from around the world were made available to the public through this website. The photos were taken by motion and infra red sensitive cameras.  It was necessary to aggregate camera trapped images from different study sites without meta  data standards in place for this field of research. As no institutional data repository was available to the Smithsonian Wild group, a Flickr Pro account was purchased for $25 US. The Amazon Cloud was used to move all images and their associated metadata onto Flickr within a few hours at a cost of $80 US. The Flickr API was employed to popululate the stand alone user interface, Smithsonian Wild. The website also leveraged Flickr functionality rather than build it, and then added to it. One addition involves sequences of images taken by newer, rapid fire cameras. These sequences of photos are automatically identified by time/date stamp intervals, and any sequence can be played on the website as a pseudo video. The interactive mapping interface allows users to drill down to the level of individual camera traps and view the photos from each camera at each location. Icons linking to species pages on the Encyclopedia of Life and North American Mammals take users to scientifically validated species information. A link to Flickr takes users to the image in Flickr. Flickr is a 'twofer' in that the images are viewed on that platform, favorited, and commented on, which added 180,000 views to the stand alone site metrics of 553,000 visits. Return visitors are high at 36%. The collection of photos ties the research directly to the collection objects. Finally, the site was built on a shoe-string budget.

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