Provide for conversion from different coordinate formats

Hello, in my country we use the UTM coordinate format and it’s a little bit awkward to be converting UTM to Latitude/Longitude coordinates for each of my observations, so I want to know how I can change the coordinate format from my account configuration, or if you can add this feature in inaturalist settings.

DenilsonOz, Honduras.

Welcome to the Forum @denilsonoz! I modified the title of your feature request so that it suggests a specific action for the developers to consider. You are welcome to modify it further if needed to clarify your request.

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Thanks @jdmore, i hope the developers could add this option. :)

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@denilsonoz can you please go through your workflow so we can get a sense of how this can best be implemented, if we do implement it?

Of course @tiwane, what I suggest is that the “Coordinate systems” function appears in the “Account settings”, such as the “Search location” function.
I have prepared a couple of images to explain this feature.
1-This is how it will look if you add the “Coordinate System Option” (Call it what you want and place it in the place you prefer)
2-And this is how it will look if it gives us the opportunity to choose the coordinate system we use in our region.

Each country has its preferred coordinate system and since iNaturalist is a universal page, the people of each region could enjoy it more if they do not waste their time converting coordinates. The UTM coordinates are the ones we use in Honduras, so you can start with this system(UTM) like a test and then you can continue adding more coordinate systems for other countries in the future.

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A co-ordinate system like UTM is a ‘map projection’, i.e. a way of projecting the curved surface of the earth onto a flat plane whilst preserving one, but not all, important parameters like distance, area or navigation angles. It was very important when all we had were paper maps for locating and navigating. Digital applications (like Google Earth for example) don’t need to do that, they can visualise the curvature on the fly, in any way you want. The natural coordinates for specifying locations on Earth are of course latitude and longitude linked to a ‘datum’ which specifies the size, and eccentricity of the slightly squashed sphere that is the earth. GPS provides location data in lat/lon, although units can be programmed to convert that to a particular map projection. The only reason I can think of where you would need to adopt a projection is if you were capturing coordinates from a paper map (and not a GPS/Phone), and/or legacy data stored as map projection coordinates. That is very important and there are many utilities which can convert projection coordinates to lat/lon. So the question for me is why you want to use a map projection rather than lat/lon? What is the workflow - from observation to upload that requires coordinates in a map projection? I guess you just want a convenient way of converting the coordinates at data entry?

I think it’s pretty clear that the request is for an account setting that would allow the user to choose a projected coordinate system to expect for all uploaded observations from that user. Uploaded coordinates would then be converted in the background to iNat coordinates (lat-long WGS1984, I presume), saving the user the work of making the conversion prior to upload.

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The main reason is because UTM is the co-ordinate System that all the people in Honduras Use, i can understand that i can change my gps to lat/lon, but for other people like Geologists/biologists that start to use iNat they are familiary with the UTM system and maybe if they don’t find an easy way to use iNat they will lost interest in the page.

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my understanding is that one of the nice features of the UTM system in particular is that it uses meters as its northing and easting value units. so theoretically, even if you didn’t have a GPS device, you could still determine a UTM coordinate if you knew it was X meters E/W and Y meters N/S of a known point, i think. that may have been nice when all you had were maps and no GPS devices, and maybe that’s just what some people continue to prefer, even if they have GPS devices now? or maybe there are certain places – say thick jungles – where GPS is still unreliable/unusable?

Sounds to me that, for Honduras, UTM is just a pervasive national standard that everyone is accustomed to, and that may be hindering greater participation in iNaturalist there.

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is this actually true? some kinds of people like to use UTM over WGS 84 lat/long regardless of which country you’re in, right? it just depends on what you’re doing. even if we assume that geologists and biologists in Honduras use UTM exclusively, if you ask non-geologists and non-biologists in Honduras to give you their coordinates, will they give you UTM or lat/long?