Concerned with the growing economic and environmental damage caused by noxious weeds, King County officials are empowering their residents to help fight these invasive species using a new mobile app, King County Connect.
The new application replaces a reporting process in which the public was previously required to take a photo of a suspected noxious weed, attempt to match it through their own image search, submit a report on the County's website and then estimate the general location of the suspected weed.
Now, a user can take a photograph of the plant and submit the photo directly to the county with an automatic date and location (via GPS coordinates). The user can also opt in to receive status updates on the county's response to the reported tip.
This information goes directly to the noxious weeds program for verification and appropriate follow up, depending on the weed category. The location will be automatically uploaded to the noxious weed program’s map, allowing the specialists to identify large spreads of weeds and areas where they might be particularly harmful.
For weeds that are regulated, a noxious weed specialist will visit the location and notify the appropriate agency or property owner to make sure the weeds are controlled. For weeds that aren’t regulated, the data will be shared with agencies or partners working on invasive weed control in the area.
The idea for the application originated from a hack-a-thon among King County IT employees and representatives from Microsoft and Slalom, a Seattle consulting company.
While many local governments have smartphone apps for residents, this noxious-weed app is unique in letting users connect with experts directly.
The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.