Announcing the New Habitat Network

Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

With great pleasure, we announce the new Habitat Network mapping experience. We’ve upgraded the mapping tools so mapping is a smoother and more intuitive experience designed to get you where you want to go: to a complete map.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

If you are a long-time user of Habitat Network things might start to look a little different starting on November 20th. The homepage gets some style-updates, but the real differences can be seen once you log-in. There you’ll find a completely redesigned mapping “wizard” that walks you through your first map-making experience with helpful explanations and animated tooltips every step of the way.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Habitat Network uses a special kind of database to store spacial information at Cornell. So, every time you create a polygon shape, no matter how complicated, we have the tools to store that shape. But, as you can imagine, things can get a little tricky when those shapes break certain rules, like when lines cross over themselves. This happens all the time (see the image above) and, up until now, it could cause some gnarly issues when your data saved (ever log in and have a shape appear totally different than when you first drew it? This is likely the cause of that downright demoralizing experience). Now, when you draw a shape, if you inadvertently cross lines, the line turns red giving you a BIG visual cue that something isn’t right and the chance to correct the problem before it is a problem.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

We’ve streamlined the editing process–putting the power to turn editing off and on right at your fingertips. You’ll never “accidentally” edit the wrong shape on your map again.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

As you map we’ll return some interesting tidbits about what you just mapped. For instance, when you create your map outline, we connect you to locally-relevant information about plants and animals. We believe the citizen science process should be a give and take between project and participants and we are working hard to ensure your data are summarized in useful and interesting ways.

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Photo © cornell lab of ornithology

Because we completely rebuilt the mapping platform we can now direct you to any specific step in the mapping process with a direct link. This might not seem too radical, but when you get stuck and reach out to staff for help, we’ll be able to zero right in on where the issue is when you share your url (the web address found at the top of most browsers. Looks something like this: www.habitat.network/learn/hn2).

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

We’ve also added a new personal dashboard that aggregates your maps and links you to relevant articles, tips, and tools in Habitat Network.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

There are some changes to the community map as well. Now you can see others’ maps without clicking on the marker. You’ll also be able to see them as markers when zoomed out–something we just couldn’t do before.

We can’t wait for you to try it out. And we hope our improved mapping tools make it easier for many more people to join our committment to sharing and improving habitat for wildlife. A huge thanks to our tireless technical team, Brian Petersen and Mark Zifchock, our web developers, and Dana Pesendorfer, and her invaluable efforts connecting to users and creating a whole new, friendly, smart user experience. It has been a wild 18 months of work for this team and we are grateful.

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