DIGITS: Digital Image Gathering and Information Tracking SystemSoftware to Process, Match and Track Digital Images and Data for Individual Identification Studies

The advent of digital photography has required a substantial change in the way photo-identification data are stored and retrieved. Although some researchers have incorporated automated recognition software to facilitate the matching for some species, other species do not have identifying features that are compatible with such software. With support from the National Science Foundation, the New England Aquarium is developing new software to manage all aspects of the data and images in the North Atlantic right whale catalog. This application uses a coding system to describe many of the matching features and is designed to be adaptable for any photo-identification study that uses some form of identification codes. The application is being built using the MS .Net framework and MS SQL Server database so that it will perform well with large digital images in low bandwidth network environments. Named DIGITS, it

  • is server based and allows for multiple users to manage images and data remotely using password protected access,
  • allows for digital images to maintain their initial filenames which are referred to in field data, thereby maintaining the link between field data and electronic data,
  • allows for complex searches of whales with similar attributes and presents them side-by-side,
  • automates the majority of the data entry required when animals are matched and confirmed, and
  • provides screens to perform annual scarring and health assessments of whales.

The system will increase the speed and efficiency with which the North Atlantic right whale population can be effectively monitored. The software will be available from the New England Aquarium free of charge, though some cost would be required to modify it for a different species and/or another database structure.

If you would like more details about DIGITS, a copy of the users manual, or to try an online demo version of the software, please contact Philip Hamilton at phamiltn@neaq.org

tbd This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI-0317297. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.