[MARMAM] DIGITS Photo Identification software

Phil Hamilton phamiltn at neaq.org
Fri Mar 2 09:22:46 PST 2007

Dear Marmammers,

If you are involved in photo identification and are struggling with how to archive your images, search and compare those images, and search or manage relevant sighting and life history data, read on.

DIGITS is software developed by the New England Aquarium and Parallax Consulting, LLC with a grant from the National Science Foundation to help process all aspects of digital photo identification data in the North Atlantic right whale catalog. The application uses a coding system to describe many of the matching features and is designed to be adaptable for any photo-identification study that uses some form of identification codes. The application was built using the MS .Net framework and MS SQL Server database so that it would perform well with large digital images in low bandwidth network environments. The system 1) is server based and allows for multiple users to manage images and data remotely using password protected access, 2) allows for digital images to maintain their initial filenames which are referred to in field data, thereby maintaining the link between field data and electronic data, 3) allows for complex searches of cataloged whales and other unidentified sightings with similar attributes and presents them side-by-side, 4) automates the majority of the data entry required when animals are compared or matched or confirmed, and 5) provides screens to perform annual scarring and health assessments of whales. Although the data are maintained in SQL, they can be accessed, queried, and exported through a MS Access front end. The system is designed to operate over a LAN (Local Area Network), through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) over the Internet, or through web page to a Citrix server. In the first two scenarios, the DIGITS software resides on the local computer which must be windows 2K or XP. The software is set to auto-update if a newer version has been released. In the 3rd scenario, the software resides on the Citrix server allowing for access from many different computer platforms. Citrix also provides the fastest access and is used for low bandwidth environments.

DIGITS has increased the speed and efficiency with which the North Atlantic right whale population can be effectively monitored. The software is available from the New England Aquarium free of charge, though some cost would be required to modify it for a different species and/or another database structure. A demonstration site has been set up and interested parties should contact Philip Hamilton (phamiltn at neaq.org) to get a user name and password or to receive a pdf of the user's manual.

Philip Hamilton
New England Aquarium
Boston, MA USA
phamiltn at neaq.org
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