Design and Development of ZomBee Watch Citizen Science Website


Asim Zihnioglu

Oral Defence Date: 

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 15:00


TH 434


3:00 PM


Professors Petkovic and Wong (CS); Hafernik (Biology)


The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a victim of unexplained die-offs around the world. Recently, Core et al (2012) discovered that the phorid fly Apocephalus is infecting honey bees in the San Francisco Bay Area. Parasitized honey bees show "zombie-like" behavior leaving their hives at night. These bees are attracted to nearby lights where they become disoriented and die. The ZomBee science team now wants to determine the geographic extent of "ZomBee" infection via a citizen science WWW site. The goal of this project was to design a highly usable WWW site with three main functions: a) easy ways for citizens to submit information about suspected infected bees; b)management and administration functions which allow the ZomBee science team to communicate with users and to verify information before posting it; and c) an interactive map-based interface for viewing the verified data on the location of the honey bee infestation. Challenges in designing this WWW site included the need to make it easy to use especially for a complex three-step submission process, and to allow easy data management and information viewing while preserving the privacy of users who submitted the data. For the development of the site, we used the most modern Software Engineering (SE) methods such as Agile processes, and User Centered Design. For the infrastructure, we chose a Django, Python-based framework which allowed us fast prototyping. The site has been deployed on Amazon WWW services since July 2012, and has strong user involvement (1360 registered users) and considerable press and media visability. This is a joint project between the SFSU Biology Department, the Computer Science Department, and the Center for Computing for Life Sciences.

Asim Zihnioglu

ZomBee infection, honey bee, citizen science, Internet