A new mobile app developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia allows users to take photos of forest areas and upload them, along with GPS information, to a database. The app, which will be tested in the Canadian province of Okanagan this summer, can be used by homeowners and fire professionals to help build a set of information that can be used to identify potentially hazardous areas.

The Forest Fuels Assessment app was designed by Faculty of Forestry Ph.D. student Colin Ferster and professor Nicholas Coops to utilize the widespread use of smartphones. Forest managers with limited resources will be able to use the body of information garnered and prioritize their decisions based on potential hazards such as fallen trees, overgrown brush or thick layers of needles.

“Our main goals are not only to use technology to develop approaches that provide informative data about forests,” the project website reads, “but also a meaningful way for a range of people to be involved in scientific research and forest management in their communities.”