Live Stream Nature Videos

Has iNaturalist considered offering live streaming of nature videos as a Feature?

We are installing bird boxes in an open-space area in Lincoln, CA. We would like to involve local students in monitoring the boxes. We cannot have dozens of children hiking out into this particular open space due to the rules under which the open space was established. But there is good cell phone coverage in the area and there is a public walking trail about 50 yards from where the bird boxes will be located. So our idea would be that one of the open-space managers could walk out to the box, place a cell phone in or on the box (with a hole to see through, and the students could see live video from inside the box on their cell phones. We know this is possible with live streaming on a Facebook account. But we see some potential problems:

  1. Some parents might not want their children signing up for Facebook, or any similar public social media service.
  2. The costs for the “cell phone data” to do the streaming might begin to add up over time.
  3. Could 20 students all trying to view the same video at the same time from the same cell tower cause delays of the video stream?

Please advise.
Thank you,

You can live stream on YouTube, too, and I think (I’ve never tried) you could probably set it up so that viewers don’t need to create their own account to watch it.

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As mentioned, you can live stream to youtube or various other sites (eg twitch) and students could view that wihout needing to sign in/up for anything.

However my worry is about you disturbing the birds by adding/removing a camera phone frequently. It might be better to buy/build a bird box with a built-in camera. I know they are available. These usually live stream to an app/software suite (via a direct wifi connection - does not require third-party data) that you could then forward to a streaming website of your choice.

20 students isn’t going to make an appreciable load on the cell/wifi network. It might have an impact if you are streaming to their devices locally through a router, but it doesn’t sound like that is your plan.

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A live stream like this certainly has value (education, monitoring, research), but I think iNat maybe isn’t the place for it. An indefinite video stream is somewhat incompatible with iNaturalist’s core structure of an ‘observation’ being a record of encountering a single organism at a single point in time. Depending on where a camera is situated, a live stream or web cam might capture hundreds of different organisms in the course of a day (maybe all of the same species, maybe not), and if left streaming for longer, the data gets fuzzier and fuzzier (or featherier, or scalier!) with every day and species that passes by. And unless the live stream was recorded and saved, it would be very difficult to have community agreement on what species are present (what time are we talking about?), or when adults are present, or when eggs become chicks, etc.

However, short, discrete, extracts (still frames or short clips) from a video feed, with identifiable date and time stamps, would fit within iNat’s granular structure. I’m not aware of any live feeds that do this on iNat, although I’m pretty sure I’ve seen photos from game cameras, which is essentially identical, just a much slower frame rate. But I still don’t think iNat is the best platform to host streaming: you might stick to YouTube or another source, then post individual observations to iNaturalist.

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I think like others have said, this isn’t really something iNaturalist would be set up for. I would recommend using another website like YouTube. I’ll close this request since it’s not a feature we’ll be adding. If you’d like to discuss livestreaming a nest, please start a topic in Nature Talk.

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