22 August 2022

Griffith mum's new rainfall app creates a buzz

| Oliver Jacques
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Sarah showing iPhone

Sarah Armstrong is keen to upgrade her SparkDrop app. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A Griffith mum who invented an app that records and compares rainfall levels across Australia plans to upgrade it into a powerful data tool to assist farmers.

In May, Sarah Armstrong launched her social media-style free app SparkDrop, which enables users to record and share rainfall levels (and photos) on their property while connecting with a network of people doing the same. The app allows people to instantly see rainfall levels in towns and farms near them as well as on farms far away.

“I grew up on a farm in Gunbar. I know farmers love to talk about the weather … they love to have a sticky beak at what’s happening on other properties, so I knew this would appeal,” Ms Armstrong said.

“I haven’t been able to find anything like this … you can get weather data on the BOM [Bureau of Meteorology] website, but it’s confusing and hard to access the data. I figured if I can’t [understand it], the average person can’t either.”

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Ms Armstrong also pointed out that the BOM doesn’t have weather stations everywhere, while the app could capture and share information from the tiniest towns and most remote farming locations.

“I could see the merit in something like this … I had an idea that I wanted to turn into an asset.”

Ms Armstrong then connected with web developers and marketing experts to get her plan off the ground. But she stayed true to her original idea of naming her app “SparkDrop”, a tribute to her grandfather and lifelong farmer Don “Sparky” Armstrong.

“Some people told me to change the name, but I stuck with it … people have been having a lot of fun with the app so far … even my kids are using it.”

Sarah Armstrong in a field with her two kids.

Sarah Armstrong and her two children. Photo: Supplied.

Hundreds of farmers and town residents have downloaded her app in the past few weeks, despite the fact Sarah has not paid for any advertising.

Now, Ms Armstrong’s focus is converting her app into more than just an online “sticky beak” and into something that could offer users a competitive advantage in agriculture.

“Right now, the app can be useful. For instance, if you own property or land in an area you don’t live, it’s helpful to see the current rainfall levels from your app.

“There’s clearly a need for good data and sharing it in a user-friendly way to as many people as possible.”

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Ms Armstrong referred to the hailstorms in January this year in Nericon and Griffith, which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to citrus crops. Farmers were left without support or compensation for months.

“We recently captured a hail event in Beelbangera … if you’ve got multiple farmers sharing photos and descriptions of hail, it can create a compelling case [for compensation].”

For this reason, she wants to expand the scope and functionality of her app. If feasible, she’s considering an interactive map as a part of her app, whereby users can see pinned rainfall levels.

“I also want to see what else of use I can put on it, like job advertisements … and water prices.”

“My next goal is to try and get businesses on board … we could create something special.”

The SparkDrop app can be downloaded from the iPhone App Store free of charge. Ms Armstrong is currently working on an Android version.

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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