Observation Location Accuracy

We are very interested in the locational accuracy of an observation, meaning the measurement of the location’s precision. While observations can be submitted within a very general location (over 1 km), observations that are mapped to within 5 or 10 meters of the actual observation are much more desired. No matter what your accuracy is for an observation, it is important to assign the accuracy so we know how the data can be used. An observation lacking an assigned accuracy has limited value.

The observations that you provide are used for a variety of conservation purposes. Some do not require a high degree of accuracy, like county lists. Other projects, like distribution modeling, require an accuracy of 30 meters or less. Observations without an assigned accuracy will not likely be used for environmental review, conservation planning, or distribution modeling.

Fortunately, it is easy to assign accuracy with iNaturalist. If you record the location with the iNaturalist app, then it assigns the accuracy automatically. However, if you assign the location using the metadata from a photo (e.g. pictures taken on your phone contain information on your location), or by manually mapping it through the web interface, then you need to add the accuracy by editing the observation.
The accuracy field, labeled “Acc (M)”, is located directly below the coordinates, and just above the map. Just enter the distance in meters that includes the entire area where the observation could have taken place. When you assign accuracy, a red circle around the point will appear. You can click on the circle and drag it in or out based on the map and it will automatically adjust the accuracy. It is also possible to edit accuracy for multiple observations using the batch edit tool.

Also, don’t forget to identify the location of the animal/sign and not where you were standing. For example, if you capture a photo of a red fox in a field while on a walk, be sure to enter the fox’s location (and an estimate of accuracy) rather than using your location on the trail.

If you are concerned about mapping a precise location, you may want to adjust the geoprivacy setting. You can learn more about geoprivacy here:http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#geoprivacy

Posted by dbroman dbroman, October 08, 2013 16:24


Just to be clear, iNaturalist records that do not have a listed positional accuracy actually means that it was not provided?

Posted by bryce123 over 1 year ago (Flag)

What do the numbers represent under the positional_accuracy column when you download data?

Posted by justwanderin about 1 year ago (Flag)

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