Griffith_Researchers_Bela Stantic_Susanne Becken_Rod Connolly

Professors: Bela Stantic, Susanne Becken, Rod Connolly

Professor Susanne Becken from the Griffith Institute for Tourism, Professor Bela Stantic from the School of Information and Communications Technology, Professor Rod Connolly from the Australian Rivers Institute and Associate Professor Michelle Whitford from the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) were awarded funding by the Department of the Environment and Energy, for the project “Measuring aesthetic and experience values using BigData approaches”.



Project Overview:

This proposed research responds to the urgent need of understanding how ecological changes affect the aesthetic value and the user experience of the Great Barrier Reef, and how these could be measured and monitored in a cost-effective way. The research capitalises on two major trends, namely peoples’ ability and willingness to share large amounts of information through various online platforms, and rapid development in computing technology to store, process and interpret these data.

Research Problem:

The Australian Government is investing considerable resources into improving reef health and monitoring changes of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Monitoring however, is costly and the notion of citizen science is attracting attention. Involving people and understanding the human dimensions of the Reef, including natural beauty as an integral part of heritage value, is critical in enhancing support for conservation. Tapping into user-supplied material, for example through social media, reflects an anthropocentric approach that accepts that both aesthetic and experiential values are concepts that arise from the interactions between nature and people. Building on existing citizen science programs (e.g. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) ‘Eye on the Reef’), this research draws on information shared by over 2.7 million people who visit the GBR (GBRPMA, 2018) to extract insights into environmental and experiential attributes of the GBR.

Project Aim:

The aim of this project therefore, is to integrate work on understanding, measuring and mapping aesthetic value of the GBR, evident in user-supplied imagery, with research on measuring experience value, expressed through visitors’ sentiment and emotions contained in social media. Whilst it is likely that changes to the aesthetic value affect visitor experience and sentiment, it is important to capture these constructs separately. The reason for this is that, at least for some user groups, visitors to the Reef continue to have enjoyable experiences, even in the face of ongoing declines in Reef health and aesthetic value. Read more

Scheme:  National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Tropical Water Quality Hub