Moose Watch logs on

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Matthew Hann and Levin Mejia, the co-creators of Moose Watch NL, hope their new application for mobile devices will help prevent moose vehicle accidents. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Reporting moose sightings to radio stations or posting a comment on the social media website Twitter are two ways drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador are letting others know where to watch for the troublesome jaywalkers.

The makers of a new application for mobile devices hopes its interactive mapping systems to let users know exactly where to be on the lookout for moose will be another useful public safety tool for protecting highway travellers.

Officially launched Tuesday, Moose Watch NL is the co-creation of Levin Mejia and Matthew Hann.

It can be used on most smartphones as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad.

The idea for the application, or “app” for short, came more than a year ago during a night of brainstorming between the two men.

A frequent listener of call-in radio shows during his day job as an apprentice carpenter, Hann knew the issue of moose on highways in Newfoundland and Labrador was a growing concern.

“I knew people were constantly complaining about the moose problem, and (I thought) hey, why not make an app for it?” said Hann.

A seasoned techie working for Memorial University’s distance education department, Mejia took the lead on the development side of the equation. It took three months for the pair to develop an early version of the app. After discussions with the provincial government failed to create a partnership, the pair put the Moose Watch app on the back burner until the idea of using Twitter in combination with the map piqued their interest.

Users who download the application for free can log in to their Twitter account and make a post relaying information on where a moose is spotted. The user must include the text ‘#moosewatchnl,’ known as a hashtag for grouping posts together, in order for the message to appear on the application.

If the post is made near where the moose sighting is made, a location-based post or “tweet” can be made, which will instantly appear on a map included with the app.

Mejia stressed users should never be driving while making a post. They can check the application prior to travelling or have a passenger do it for them while driving.

Early traffic

On the day it was launched, the app was downloaded by more than 300 users, which they consider a good start. Its website at moosewatchnl.com attracted more than 1,000 visitors on the same day.

However, it has also attracted critics who question the usefulness of having another Twitter-based hashtag for alerting motorists about the presence of moose on roads. Many users of the social networking website are already familiar with the #moosenl hashtag. Some Twitter users Wednesday wrote that ‘moosenl’ involves the use of fewer characters and the introduction of the #moosewatchnl hashtag will create confusion for people wanting to alert other drivers about moose sightings.

But the creators of Moose Watch NL are adamant their application brings something new to the road safety table.

“It’s one thing to be able to just read it on a timeline, but it’s another thing to be able to see it visually on a map,” said Hann.

Development of the app was completed on their own dime, and while it is free for users, the creators hope sponsors will help cover the costs associated with refining and improving Moose Watch NL. “If you have the potential to save a life, you’re not going to charge people to pay for the application,” said Hann.

Mejia said they soon hope to make the app useable on BlackBerry smartphones.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • AdamH
    July 27, 2011 - 15:29

    It's certainly a great start that may lead into better tracking of the Moose population and adversities that drivers face on the roads. Especially here in Newfoundland. At least these guys are trying to do something to help the general public instead of sitting behind there computer and complaining with their uneducated opinions. It's a wonderful idea and it's great to see a couple of local boys putting a good idea to use. We need more innovative and intelligent guys trying to solve problems instead of making problems.

  • Jennifer
    July 14, 2011 - 11:33

    I agree Jon. Obviously moose are constantly on the move, but its about awareness. I'm assuming the comment authors here are quite aware of moose and are alert as they travel, but this isn't true for all drivers, especially young, inexperienced ones. Moose Watch is starting a conversation (whether it is support or debate) & helping spread awareness - surely that can't be a bad thing.

  • Jennifer
    July 14, 2011 - 11:30

    I agree Jon. Obviously moose are constantly on the move, but its about awareness. I'm assuming the comment authors here are quite aware of moose and are alert as they travel, but this isn't true for all drivers, especially young, inexperienced ones. Moose Watch is starting a conversation (whether it is support or debate) & helping spread awareness - surely that can't be a bad thing.

  • Jen
    July 14, 2011 - 11:13

    I agree Jon. Obviously moose are on the move and a plotted point doesn't mean they are staying there, but its about awareness. I'm assuming the comment authors here are quite aware of moose and are alert as they travel, but this is not necessarily true for all drivers, especially young, inexperienced ones. Just looking at the app & map reminds us of what a big problem moose are and should be a wakeup call for anyone who drives nonchalantly across the province. Moose Watch is starting a conversation (whether it is support or debate) & helping spread awareness - surely that can't be a bad thing. Regardless of your opinions on the value of the App, its too bad people have to take time from their day to put down the hard work and efforts of people who are trying, in their own way, to make a difference.

  • Jen
    July 14, 2011 - 11:10

    I agree Jon- people are already using Twitter to share information about moose and traffic- this way there is a quick application that passengers can use or that drivers can check before they travel. Obviously moose are on the move and a plotted point doesn't mean they are staying there, but its about awareness. I'm assuming the comment authors here are quite aware of moose and are alert as they travel, but this is not necessarily true for all drivers, especially young, inexperienced ones. Just looking at the app and the map reminds us of what a big problem moose are and should be a wakeup call for anyone who drives nonchalantly across the province. Just the fact that Moose Watch is starting a conversation (whether it is support or debate) is helping spread awareness - surely that can't be a bad thing. Regardless of your opinions on the value of the App, its too bad people have to take time from their day to put down the hard work and efforts of people who are trying, in their own way, to make a difference.

  • Jen
    July 14, 2011 - 11:06

    I agree Jon- people are already using Twitter to share information about moose and traffic- this way there is a quick application that passengers can use or that drivers can check before they travel. Obviously moose are on the move and a plotted point doesn't mean they are staying there, but its about awareness. I'm assuming the comment authors here are quite aware of moose and are alert as they travel, but this is not necessarily true for all drivers, especially young, inexperienced ones. Just looking at the app and the map reminds us of what a big problem moose are and should be a wakeup call for anyone who drives nonchalantly across the province. Just the fact that Moose Watch is starting a conversation (whether it is support or debate) is helping spread awareness - surely that can't be a bad thing. Regardless of your opinions on the value of the App, its too bad people have to take time from their day to put down the hard work and efforts of people who are trying, in their own way, to make a difference.

  • Bryan Connors
    July 14, 2011 - 09:00

    This got to be one of the most rediculous things I ever heard. Most of the problem with moose/vehicle accidents is lack of attention while driving. Lots of the time this includes paying due attention to the speedometer. Just what we need another distraction. If people don't realize by now that MOOSE CAN BE ON ANY ROAD AT ANY TIME an app will not help them.

  • tm
    July 14, 2011 - 08:44

    Why don't we just start slowing down and looking out the window rather than burrying our head in devices to tell us where a moose was? Great hunting application though!

  • harry
    July 14, 2011 - 08:41

    who or wha can tell where a moose is going to be at any given minute .. ffs . get real i guess these guys will be looking for gov money ,, what a joke everyone dont hv cell phs or hv radios on at all times n moose appear in every nook n cranny in nfld , oh myyyyyyyy b do theres guys go to nuiversity ,

    • Jon
      July 14, 2011 - 08:49

      I guess everyone can't spell either or type a coherent sentence. I say good for them. At least they are trying something. What have you done?

    • holy smokes
      July 14, 2011 - 09:13

      Harry.....ON THE MONEY!!

  • Levin Mejia
    July 14, 2011 - 07:38

    Thank you for the great article, Andrew! If you would like more information about Moose Watch visit: www.moosewatchnl.com, or download the free iPhone app in the iTunes App Store. Thank you for the support everyone!

  • kim
    July 14, 2011 - 06:54

    How many of these so......... call moose sightings are legit.Come on,who is actually reporting these .Someone we can honestly believe.We have TRACKERS of all kind,Get a life.