Has there been any discussion of using the National Topographic System (NTS) 1:50 000 grid as the default display for iNat data in Canada?
For context: the NTS maps all of Canada and divides the country into 1:50 000 scale squares. The squares are identified by a unique letter/number combination (e.g. 15VP56) and my understanding is the average size of the squares is about 10 km x 10 km. These squares are already used for citizen science projects like the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.
With the consent of users, iNat.ca could be configured to publicly display all records for all species at this 1:50 000 output scale. The actual location data could continue to be recorded as it always has, with the existing privacy options for users - including sharing of obscured/private co-ordinates. Researchers who want access to precise co-ordinates could still obtain this with user consent.
The beauty of this solution is that it renders the (massively-complicated) geoprivacy debate moot. If all species are publicly displayed at the same 1:50 000 scale, then all species receive some protection. Users can add more if they wish, but no-one needs to be concerned that a given species has less protection than is warranted. There’s also no issue with rogue operators making changes to species geoprivacy that affects public output.
If the primary goal of iNat is to encourage users to interact with nature, and the secondary goal is to accumulate useful scientific data about nature, then using the NTS grid for public display of all observations would be a sensible compromise between those goals.
Now, of course, I have no idea what the technical/programming impact of this would be…but if it is possible to obscure the location of some records some of the time, it should be possible to take this further. Experienced users could help by adding the six-character NTS tag to their records when they are uploaded.
Just my .02, thank you for reading.