ECSA 2016: Open Science – Policy Innovation & Social Impact (Day 1 afternoon)

See the first post of the day here. After the afternoon break, the second panel was dedicated to started with Innovative approaches to civic engagement, learning & education

Michael J.O. Pocock (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK). Defined himself as an ecologist who is interested in citizen science. He is interested in ecosystem services and finding ways to engage people and communicate the ideas and imporance of nature to people – and that is why he created ‘hypothesis led citizen science’ in the Conker  Tree Science project. The project includes ecosystem services, invasive species and other ecological discussions within the interaction between the participants and the scientists, so it got an element of education. Challenge is evaluating if the educataional benefits that are assumed to be happening do materialise. Michael also shared the experience from the Biological Records Centre, which has been working for 50 years with different groups of volunteers and enthiasts for identifying species. BRC provide support through infrastructure, but the communities are learning and developing themselves. Meaningful interactions in the Conker Tree Project: we can have mass communication, but the mass participation allow deeper engagement. Also there are questions that are coming from the community of the people that were involved, but when the project team asked ‘what research questions should we address next?’ there was no response from the thousands of participants. However, direct emails and contacts raised research questions, but the level of engagement in this part of the project was limited.

The cost benefit report is here

wp-1463667959231.jpgDavid Weigend (Haus der Zukunft, Germany) – at the house of the future, the reality lab is a lab to allow people to create their own future. They want to enable people to share the future. Societal issues that they are exploring today are complex – such as data security – so their approach is to through their process that lead to creativity and exploration. For example, thinking about apps that help people to see what information is being collected about them over one day, so they can think about the implications and discuss them with facilitators. The type of engagement that they are trying to achieve is hard and they can reach about 50 people face to face, but aim to have apps and tool-kits to allow more people to be involved – e.g. through games which helping to understand issues.

Isabelle Arpin (IRSTEA, France). As a sociologist, she research citizen science – in her case the experience of gardeners from Grenoble, which were involved in a project about management based on insects instead of pesticides. The city wanted to convince the gardeners that the approach was appropriate management approach, but gardeners in the city were complaining about the use of insects. The citizen science was means to convince gardeners that the approach was valid. They were trying to show that they’ll experience more butterflies in the gardens. There was a clear evidence of change for the gardeners in their personal and professional life. The gardeners were not highly educated but as they were very engaged in the project, they learned more about insects. It’s not spontaneous to notice things (e.g. attention to insects). Therefore, we need to think of technologies of attention that make people aware of new things in their area.

Marie Céline Loibl (Sparkling Science Austria, Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Austria). The research of citizen science in Austria – well funded range of projects of involving people in many fields of work, and the scope have engaged many organisations: 450 schools, over 50 universities with interest to work in authentic research situations. It’s about offering people to fund research but only project that can students can be actively involved and do. Most students are involved because of guidance by teachers, not only by the students themselves, volunteering people – but all the projects have difficult phase in the middle of knowing how to go through the project, but when it works it is amazing.

Mike Sharples (The Open University, UK). The Open University is about inclusive research and education, and they have been working to allow people to do open inquiry trough the project nQuire-it where people can create missions and proposed investigations. On the platform it is easy to create a session and then using mobile phones as the measuring device. The app unlock sensors on the phone and see link between air pressure and precipitation. The professional scientists can have a role in nQuire-it – engaging professional and creating sustainable community is a challenge. You need to moderate and facilitate an inquiry to make it both sustainable and successful, and without it it will not be successful Experts can help in understanding calibration, data reliability and more. Another project of the platform is about birds and relationships to noise – which is an example of open question in the science, but there is value in the learning.

Question – Which budget should be used: research money or public engagement funds? Marie is using official government money with big investment, the open university are getting money from research, trusts, volunteers and more. Michael get funding from the government research and others. Is it possible to get ‘research money’ to do citizen science? The FWF in Austria started providing additional funding for citizen science for projects. This is also happening also at the H2020 level. Michael – citizen science is quality science but perceived as risky, and make research funders reluctant to invest in it. Looking at cost and benefits of citizen science, which was challenging. There are risks but the benefits are especially big when it works. There are also innovations that helped the EU.

How to measure engagement? is it quantity or quality? Marie – in Austria they offered awards to citizen science activities to encourage the incentives carefully – to make sure that data is valid. There are issues about quality of conversation and check that they lead to shared understanding – e.g. how you calibrate instruments. Looking at the conversations and outcomes. David – quality of engagement should be the top. There are challenges and funders sometime want to see high number of participation. Isabel – the importance was the engagement of gardeners was about quality and not quality. It is important to have trust and not just forced to interact with highly educated people.

Is citizen science about generating new science in civic engagement or engagement. Mike – they try to learn good science and good learning. David – the open agricultural project of MIT is carrying a message of decentralised agriculture and also doing good research Michael – citizen science is central to my work, but it is not possible to do the science without that. Equally, engaging with people give benefits to both side. The worst words in citizen science are ‘they should’ towards participants. Marie – there is a need to integrate both. Isabel – there can be a focus on engagement that also lead to science.

Citizen Science strategy and impact development in Germany – Aletta Bonn, Katrin Vohland. They shared the experience in Germany in development of citizen science strategy. there were hopes from government, NGOs and researchers – thinking about the added value of citizen science. The project funded by the ministry of science and education. They created a platform that share citizen science projects, providing events, interaction, discussions etc. Key insights: there was a question about the definition of citizen science – need a clear definition, but keep it open. At the core, these are questions about cooperation and participation and what conditions are needed for it. There is mutual learning which is under exploit area. The results is a green book with the strategy. A video show the details participatory process that they went through to arrive to the paper.

Some core issues in the consultation includes: fairness in participation process, sustainability of collaborative activities, and move towards responsible research and innovation. People comments include fun but also ‘science should be accessible to everyone’. There are in position papers different views of where citizen science fit. In the institutions, researchers thought that it should be in data collection and maybe dissemination. but civil society organisations seen a much wider role – less in design, but everywhere else. The recommendation include strengthening existing structures: networking, funding instruments, citizen science training and volunteer management, and synergies with science communication. Understanding different roles. There was also a recommendation to think of new structures – building a culture of valuing citizen science in society, science and policy. We need data quality and data management and the last recommendation is to integrate citizen science in scientific processes, in education and in decision making. They aim to move from green to white paper.

17:00 Citizen Science as an input for better policy formulation & implementation Chairs/Organisers: Jose Miguel Rubio-Iglesias DG Research & Innovation, European Commission, & Susana Nascimento Joint Research Centre – JRC, European Commission New order of panelists

Lea Shanley (co-Execuctive Director, South Big Data Innovation Hub at Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA). Lea experience from tribal mapping to policy engagement in washington. In 2010 she looked at public involvement in managing NASA assets. There is a citizen science act to help federal agencies to get hrough it – basic legislation that give authorisation to agencies to do what they want to achieve. These were concepts that work in the senate, but then reachign out to 60 organisations and people and then integrate the results into the legaslistic process

Roger Owen. There is a distinction between participation and citizen science. There is a long tradition in the UK of using citizen science data for decision making, but if we want to get into behaviour change, we need better dialogues and enagement. This is indeed top down – EPAs know what they got to do, and they tend to commission top-down process, but then they need to also thinking about other observers and what they are interested in, and we need to feed back what they are doing with data and how it is used in decision making

Christian Herbst (Deputy head of Strategic Foresight and Science Communication, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany). The interest started from science communication perspective during the year of science. The ministry see citizen science as part of science communication. The coalition treaty stated that it should bring participation and science communication together. Bringing society and science together – involve more people in science. We need quality and quantity – we need to involve a lot of people. We need to have dialogues with citizens about science and need to initiate decision making process, co-design and co-production can be integrated in decision preparation phases – that’s an area for citizen science now.

Sven Schade (Joint Research Centre – JRC, European Commission). JRC is an internal science service for the EC. The process that the JRC done was to look at data driven information. They started in 2012 to look at crowdsourced data, but then more and more citizen science. They have just published a report about data management in citizen science – over 120 projects, and most in the environmental area. They are now moving to look at the way citizen science can be used to influence decision making. It doesn’t influence the process.

Elena Montani (Policy Officer, Knowledge, Risks and Urban Environment Unit, DG Environment, European Commission). Policy making is slow, especially when new technologies emerge. So they are reflecting on how they can integrate citizen science in decision making process. There is big potential: behaviour change, economics – showing that it will be cost effective, there are no success stories at member states to integrate into a wider framework. There is environmental knowledge community, and exploring how new forms of knowledge are emerging – looking specifically about Nature 2000 areas. They accept the challenges and also other opportunities . Apps are easy to use about noise, but they can be contradictory to official records, so need to consider how to reconcile these forms of data collection.

Lea – they are building on the long work of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the federal government agencies there were a range of interest across the board – but they found agency staff that were interested, but didn’t know what to do. They began by linking champions through the federal community of practice – with funding from the Sloan foundation, the commons-lab in the Wilson center commissioned studies to deal with barriers – data quality, privacy, costs and created case studies approach. Also a set of case studies that demonstrated success. The ‘new visions on citizen science’ worked well to promote attention – getting high level support to such action. There is risk averse approach at federal agencies, and working through high level bodies such as the White House allowed the development of list of tools, and get their commitment – have executive on record that it is permitted.

Jan-Martin – we need to educate policy makers about the need to integrate citizen science. Sven – there is another level in the EU – the 28 member states have their own understanding, culture, approaches, regulations and systems. There are plenty of success stories at the national level across the board. Christian – although government provide funding for governmental guidelines, but in the end, but there is a need to listen to people and understand more about citizen science. Citizen science is about getting involved with science, which will influence scientific decision making. There is scientists opposition to citizen science – see it as a danger. Jan-Martin – use of citizen science for data collection – to what degree can they use the information for decision making, Roger – the anglers monitoring initiative show us that the aggregate data does provide early warning to the professionals. Data can be filtered and use properly for decision making. Sven – there are ways to measure lakes in Finland that provide new information that can be tested. Lea – in the federal government they talk about augmenting and filling the gaps, not about replacing. Elena – the EU is interested in encouraging participation – as part of Aarhus convention. Roger – air quality as a method to engage people and see how policies are in terms of effectiveness. Elena – They are potential that cannot be ignores . Sven – at different levels there are different needs and approaches. Christian – participation is different at different levels: local, regional and national.

Can citizen science help us in understanding the how? Roger – yes, it give us an understanding of how to do things not just in what. What do we need to tell policy makers? Elena – how the data that is provided can be integrated into their policies, and need to be reassured that it is comparable, and also what it brings to society – need dialogue: there is utilitarian approach from institutions to reduce cost of data gathering. Lea – another way of understanding what the citizens want, understanding of improving the missions of the organisation. Link the priorities to the interests of the policy maker. Sven – the opportunity is part of the digital single market as an entry point. Christian – there is also the potential of social innovation. Give new ideas to policy makers. Roger – regarding standards for citizen science, not simple, but SEPA develop the choosing and using citizen science guide. Sven – in basic services there are interoperability standards, Lea – for some data need to match standards. ECSA already published two policy paper. Questions to the audience: what are the experience of working with policy? what tools help with that? Christian – how many think that citizen science is about impact on policy making – an aspect but not the only. Roger – success of citizen science is about changing people behaviour – quite a lot of people.

Last question: one term – inequality: participation, opportunity, knowledge. Christian suggest that every citizen science should include dealing with inequality. Roger – interest in reaching hard to reach and marginalised communities, through dealing with housing association. Alena – citizen science is about dealing with inequality. We cannot field the gaps without full participation. Need to empower people that are not empowered. Christian – very important issue, as people across Europe are opposing political systems. We need to engage more people in scientific processes. We need spectrum of projects. LEa – pariticpatory mapping community have done that for many years, giving people a seat at the table. They reached out to groups who are doing social science data. Sven – citizen science is one approach but it can be used to help with inequality. Lea – there is also controversy about citizen science.

Aletta – observations: we had an inspiring day and we can think of new questions that are being asked and how people in the conference and outside the society address them. The diversity of the field is very rich in experience and knowledge. It is exploding on twitter (and there is this blog). There are new books emerging about citizen science.

Following the day a reception at the Natural History Museum and three rounds of discussion tables under the dinosaurs at the entrance to the museum…

 

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mukih

Professor of GIScience, University College London

3 thoughts on “ECSA 2016: Open Science – Policy Innovation & Social Impact (Day 1 afternoon)”

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