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Behind DangerOz: Developing the app

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 26 Sep 2011

The whys and hows of producing DangerOz, the Museum’s very first iPhone app. 

DangerOz - Home Screen

Jen Cork © Australian Museum

Why did we produce this app?
As Australia’s first and oldest Museum, and a leading centre of scientific research, people trust us and come to us looking for information and answers. Our Search & Discover team receives more than 2,000 inquiries in any one year. Many of these begin with people worrying about a particular animal being ‘dangerous’. This is rarely based on anything other than that they have never seen it before and were wondering if it ‘might be dangerous’. In fact, most are harmless but the question of ‘danger’ appears to be a common motivation for contacting the Museum. We wanted to make this information as accessible as possible for our audiences who are increasingly online, using social media and mobile devices by providing an additional information channel for people all over the world who are interested in Australian wildlife.

What does our app do?
DangerOz provides photos and facts on 40 different animals, as well as a geo-location feature which tells you which of these animals might be nearby. It also rates animals according to danger type such as ‘don’t eat me’, ‘defensive’ and ‘has caused death.’ We thought the rating would help clear up some of the myths surrounding certain animals, especially if some of these deter people from enjoying their time in the great outdoors (or indoors). Go here to see how we worked out the danger rating.

Who is the app for?
We designed the app for people who are interested in Australian wildlife – whether they are tourists or locals with a passion for bushwalking, the beach, the great outdoors and so on. Even those who just want to identify the creepy crawlies in their own backyard!

Who produced the app?
DangerOz was developed and produced by a wide range of staff across all areas of the Museum - scientists, interpreters, technical, web and editing. The prototype was developed by the University of Sydney School of Information Technologies and the Smart Services CRC. The final app was produced in collaboration with Reading Room Australia.

Why are we charging?
We struggled with whether to charge or not. We consulted our professional community and results of our discussions can be found on this blog post Mobile apps: to charge or not to charge. In the end we decided to charge as we wanted to test the market, with all funds generated going back to supporting the Museum’s scientific research, collection management and public programs.

Why isn’t the app for Android?
We did not do an Android version for several reasons. The most prosaic one was that this app was already so long in development we just wanted to get it into market as soon as we could. It was also our first app and we just didn’t have the resource or technical expertise to go down the Android path. We know that this may be annoying, but we will investigate what we can do about the Android platform in future as we are conscious that trends are showing that this market is growing substantially.

Why isn’t the app for iPad?
Similar to the above we didn’t want to delay launching the app any further. DangerOz looks OK on the iPad, however, again we will be looking into what apps we can develop for this platform in future.

Want to try for yourself?
DangerOz is available to download now

1 comment

Lynda Kelly - 5.09 PM, 29 September 2011

We've also been asked why the app doesn't work on the iPod Touch. To be perfectly honest we assumed that it would work on those devices. Anyway, we're now looking in to what we need to do to enable it to work on that platform.

We're also investigating making some design changes and working on our list of the next dangerous animals to include in our next update. If you have any suggestions please let us know!

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