Manual vs. automatic GPS coordinates

Is it possible to tell whether an observation’s (not my own) location coordinates have been added manually?

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I don’t think so.

If you look at the JSON, there are entries for “positioning_method” and “positioning_device”. This observation used the phone’s GPS, for example.

If the location was entered manually, these read “null” instead. I don’t know of a way to see this using the standard interface, however.

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In some cases if you look at the info (photo) page for a given observation you can see the device that was used to add gps if it was a phone or GPS-equipped camera.

For instance, this observation shows the coords came from a Nikon Coolpix while in this other one the coords are from a Google Pixel 4 XL. This can be useful as a first, quick pass for single observations, but if the info isn’t there, then checking the JSON will be better (and also if you’re doing lots of observations).

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just a quick note: i don’t think this is necessarily true of observations loaded via iOS app.

I would just caution that even if coordinates are entered manually, the coordinates could be coming off of a point saved by a GPS device, so one can’t know the true origins of the coordinates.

Also, I geotag my photos using a handheld GPS device and third party software, and so it’s usually very accurate, but you’ll see null in the JSON response, eg https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53680629

This information can be misleading. If the metadata includes location information then it will be displayed on the info page regardless of how that information got into the file. If I look at the information pages of my own photos it displays in the same way but my camera does not have GPS functionality.

It would display in the same way if the information had been added by importing information from a separate GPS device as @tiwane mentions. It also appears in the same way if the co-ordinates had been added totally manually. I don’t think I can show you an example as my locations are obscured but many of my photos have the co-ordinates inserted into the metadata after finding them with Google Maps.