Updated 09/11/2009 11:53 AM
New Yorkers Use Cell Phones To Find Native Crickets
An upcoming one-day effort to find crickets in the middle of New York City relies on the latest cell phone technology. NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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Subways, sirens, cars, buses and crickets? It's not the game of "Which of these thing doesn't belong." The U.S. Geological Survey and a whole host of other scientific groups and universities are asking New Yorkers to find crickets and katydids through the five boroughs.
The one-day event, "Cricket Crawl," will take place on Friday, September 11, during which all city residents are asked to head out to parks at dusk, hunt for crickets and katydids, and with cell phones in hand digitally capture and report on what they find.
"Back in 1920 there was a report that certain common katydids were missing on Staten Island. They didn't hear them any longer," says Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History. "And then recently some people in the Bronx and some here in Manhattan actually said they heard this katydid chirping again.
"Since we have a lot of electronics available to us now, you can capture images, sounds the animals make, maybe [a Global Positioning System] in your phone gives you an exact location where you are," continues Sorkin. "That'll all be uploaded and transmitted. Your information is actually transferred to make an mp3 file, then it's parced in Discover Life to give an actual real time model and map of where these species are occurring."
New Yorkers who are not sure how to distinguish between the different kinds of crickets can go to the event's official website, www.DiscoverLife.org/Cricket, to learn about the different species.
"The seven common ones that will probably be heard are listed, you can go to that website, listen to what the sounds are like," says Sorkin.
The website also says how to become a participant, lists groups open to all that will go out together and which experts will lead the way.
Organizers say using everyday, nonscientific researchers helps them get data they need without having to get giant grants to collect that data. They believe based on how well the Cricket Crawl works, underfunded researchers all over could view this as a new way to use everyday technology and everyday people to help solve some of science's lingering questions.