PhD studentship in Extreme Citizen Science – development of data collection tools with non-literate participants

For more information on ExCiteS and ECSAnVis, please visit here and here.

Studentship Description

The ExCiteS research group has been developing Sapelli since 2012 – this is a platform that facilitates data collection across language or literacy barriers through highly configurable icon-driven user interfaces. The successful candidate will join a team of anthropologists, ecologists, geographers,  computer scientists and designers and focus on extending the undertaken research work. This will include the design, prototype and implementation of Sapelli components that answer the needs and wishes of participants in citizen science projects. The research will mainly include aspects of data collection such as data validation, user authentication and designing user interfaces for non-literate participants. We will specifically focus on engagement of non-literate people and we need to understand how the process, from data collection to analysis, can be made meaningful and useful for their everyday life. The project will include working with non-literate forest communities in central Africa and seek to enable these vulnerable communities to conduct their own environmental monitoring or mapping. For more information, see papers by Stevens et al. 2014 ( and Vitos et al. 2017 (

Person Specification

The applicants should possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum) in a relevant discipline such as Computer Science, Electronic Engineering or Human-Computer Interaction. The ideal candidate should also hold an MSc in Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, Human Factors, or Geographical Information Science and must have proven experience and skills in Software Engineering or Human Computer Interaction.

The ideal candidate should have excellent verbal and written communication skills and should be able to work as part of a team to design, develop and deploy software prototypes. Preferably, the candidate should have experience in programming in Java and Android and have a good understanding of code management systems such as GitHub. Skills in using Python would also be desired. Finally, since the case studies might involve travelling to central Africa, the candidate should have a willingness to travel in remote forest locations and thus French language skills would be desirable. The ability to be patient and understanding with local people is essential in this regard.


Applications are invited from UK and EU citizenship holders.

Start Date

Between September and December 2017, at time that is suitable to the candidate. A successful candidate will be asked to work with the Extreme Citizen Science group for two weeks (expenses covered) before registering to the PhD programme.

Application Procedure

Applicants should send a cover letter, 2-4 page research proposal, examples of academic writing (e.g. BSc or MSc dissertation), code outputs from past work and CV to Michalis Vitos ( and Judy Barrett ( The cover letter should include a personal statement explaining your interest in citizen science, why you are interested in our project and how you would see your work integrated into ExCiteS vision and activities. You are welcome to contact Prof Muki Haklay ( or Michalis or any other ExCiteS members with queries about your proposal or for an informal conversation. Deadline for application – 31st August 2017.

Funding Notes

Duration – 3 years

Funding –The scholarship covers UCL student fees at the Home/EU rate and provides a stipend of £16,553 per annum tax free. Travel expenses and research equipment will also be provided to the successful candidate.

Funding Body: European Research Council (ERC) and UCL.


Cambridge Conference 2017 – The Willing Volunteer

wp-1499185668092The Cambridge Conference is an event that is held every 4 years, organised  by the Ordnance Survey, and it is a meeting of many heads of National Mapping Agencies who come together to discuss shared interests and learn from each other.

The history of the conference is available here. This year, I was asked to provide a talk about volunteered geographic information and the role of crowdsourced information in the service of national mapping bodies. As common in these conferences, I was given a title for the talk and request on the topic – this was “The Willing Volunteer –
Incorporating voluntary data into national databases” – and the description was: At present few mapping databases contain crowd sourced or voluntary data. Consider how, in the future, this will be a valuable source of data for national geospatial, cadastral and mapping agencies.

The talk itself covered 4 parts – since the conference as a whole looked at the future needs of mapping in the next 15 years, I’ve mentioned the trends that will influence crowdsourcing over this period. I’ve included both the technical and the social trends that will influence this area. I then covered few examples, and paid attention to the need to think differently about crowdsourced information (using the metaphor of scarcity/abundance as a way to explain that), then provided two insights from the “crowdsourcing geographic information in government” study that I’m currently leading. I’ve finished with few slides that demonstrate that engagement can reach out to everyone, regardless of their literacy.

Here are the slides:

PPGIS 2017 – Poznan, Poland (Day 2) – Geodesign, applications and discussion

DSC_0082The second day of the PPGIS 2017 symposium (see Day 1 here) started with a session on METHODS AND TOOLS. The session opened with a keynote from Peter Nijkamp (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) . The talk is titled “A big data dashboard architecture for computable intelligent city policy“. DSC_0106-1Peter noted that the way we talk about policy needs to differentiate between goals and implementations. From an early stage in his studies, he learned that when people come with ideas, there can be a whole list of goals for policy, and the tasks of the scientists is to consider how to implement it. In a linear system, the number of goals will be exactly the number of instruments which is an assumption of how to implement policy. In the Netherlands, they had a consultation about sustainable development led to over 65 goals but without any thought of implementation, and therefore the plan failed. Dreams have to be confronted with reality – the human capabilities to look at the multiplicity of goals is limited (e.g. the magical number of 7) – beyond 7 it is not possible to achieve goals. In a scientific system, you need to minimise things to lead to very few critical factors. Herbert Simon published a paper about the economics of complexity over 30 years ago – he uses the example of two watch repair people with one looking at all the details of the system and therefore failed, but the one that decomposes the system to sub-systems manage to complete the task in a more efficient way. The number of aspects in a planning system is limited, and there can be a highly complex system, it needs to be decomposed to few core sub-system (e.g. car dashboard as a demonstration). The view that is offering is a new urban world in which we need to notice all the challenges in an urban environment – connected city, climate adaptation etc. There are more and more discussions about smart cities over the past decade. We need to think what we mean by that – the European focus was on resources and quality of life. The core thing is about the use of ICT. The literature mixes input side and the output side. Smart Cities require decomposition – economy, people, governance, mobility etc. Naturaglly, there are different ranking for quality of life, green city – it’s all sort of indicators but these are not very helpful. Global City Power Index is probably the best of these axsand it’s from Japan. As the discussion about the smart city evolved, the Big Data challenges appeared – the question of how to organise them and manage them increased. Batty (2013) pointed that a city is not just a source of planning and activities, but also data. Are we going to find patterns in the data, or are we aiming to have a theory first. Nijkamp moved from just looking at the data, back to examine the theory and think what you would like to look at. This brings us to the C-I-TY Lab work. We need an evidence-based approach. Thinking about rational planning position about mission and position, and then take that into methodological aspects and operational aspects. The methodology is things like information cascade or hierarchical filters. The operational side is computable and numerical. The dashboard is a health check for a city or a region – are we still on course to achieve our goals. The dashboard is advisory and not a command and control system. The operational part of the city of Amsterdam, they look at job creation, regional and international export position, innovation and entrepreneurship, and geographic concentration. The idea is to compare to other cities and each bit also has comparison of previous years. In these systems, there are sub-systems and sub-sub-systems – focusing on each goal, but there is also an overall goal. The outcomes of the dashboard need to be interpreted within the wider ecological, social, and economic perspectives of the city – it requires expertise in interpretation. i-City is not only the digital power since putting it in the hand of untrained end users, will lead to a disaster. The system is assuming a stability in the planning of the goals and having long-term goals

DSC_0110Mapping web-application for digital participation in urban planning Jiří Pánek (Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic) demonstrating a system that is being developed in Olomouc in the Czech Republic and allow a subjective layer of emotional mapping of the city on top of the mapping. He uses the concept from Perkins (2009) about the emotional understanding of space and place. Also using Griffin and McQuoid (2012) noticing maps of emotions, maps to collect emotional data, and finally emotions about using maps. They thought about biometric measurements – e.g. BioMapping, extraction of user-generated content but also surveys. While it is useful to understand that emotional maps can be relevant here, but he is also suggesting the concept of GeoParticipation (Panek 2014). This can be seen as a subgroup of PPGIS, but it is also part of Participatory Planning Support System. The approach depends on crowdsourcing, and alsobeen deployed across the Czech Republic through a network of small towns that promotes sustainability, working with over 40 cities. He covered the leaning from failure. Using an analogue way (just papers and pen) didn’t work in terms of expressiveness but it was difficult to map it with a pencil. Also going to only digital way, with just allowing people to draw point line, polygons. Also tried doing only points, because heatmaps produce wrong realisation about the city. Also trying just point end without knowledge of who collected the information. So they decided to collect points that are associated with a person and background and interest. They combine paper and digital maps, and in the paper maps they have numbered pins that allow you to write details about who collected the information and they also have a digital tool that ask for details that are recorded with demographic details at the end. In Olomouc, they’ve done 2117 respondents – paper 481 and web 1636. They focused on 6 spatial questions – including feeling of safeness, walkability etc – they received 25760 points/lines/polygons with 4801 comments. There is an age distribution that is skewed to the young age, with half of participants students. and they have 45% with university degree and more students. The results allow to identify 5-10 hot-spots to analyse further: the city needed simplified details that they can used. Associated comments to specific terms to summarised them. Some aspects of the analysis show focus of people in their local area, where they are happy to comments, while other aspects that they don’t want – both in my backyard and not in my backyard. Lessons: points are sufficient for most of the case studies. Critical mass is really crucial – thousands of participants are important. Active engagement with local authorities is a must: without a wish for participatory planning then there is no point in it. Analysis of the comments can bring further data. The system is

DSC_0114Geo-questionnaire – a tool to support the process of social participation Bogna Kietlińska (University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland), Robert Olszewski, Agnieszka Turek (Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland) as a sociologist and art historian and collaborate with geographers and cartographers. Their geo-questionnaire include 154 participants and look at a recently revitalized street (Tumska street) and they wanted to explore the methodology. Plock is an old city, with a population of 126,000 and a university city with a lot of young people. The biggest problem on the street is that there are many obstacles that make the street difficult to navigate – it’s mostly shopping and services street and there are social problems: council flats, homelessness and lack of trust regarding the area. in Poland there are only 30% there is lack of spatial plans, and very little trust with other people (only 20%). They looking at open geoinformation, VGI, spatial data mining, text mining and working as a group that cut through science, art, and business. The questionnaire is providing something concrete to answer, allowing people to geolocate answers and make them less abstract, and it is suitable for participation in spatial planning. People could mark things that they like and dislike and also open questions to allow qualitative answers. People below 25 liked the street, people between 25-65  had mixed opinion, and older people completely didn’t like the changes at all. The limitations of the questionnaire are the issue of internet access and ability to use them and financial access – and therefore thinking about representativeness. there is also an issue that this is static – not taking into account our body in space. Her view is coming from the phenomenology of perception, and sensuous geography and urban sociology. Therefore need to an embodiment of experience and meaning. Emplacement creates certain association and understanding. We can think of ethnographic methods (walks and observations), design thinking with prototyping, gamification with storytelling in virtual reality. There is also thinking what storytelling. Also considering multi-agent systems and fuzzy modelling. The gamification they think about the playable city and creating prototypes for getting points for different contributions. Also created certain monsters: such as architect who don’t know how to create proper building that the participants need to work with. They are also considering an agent-based model of the city and also consider fuzzy logic model. They work in three places – they work with Warsaw “Mordor” to address traffic jam and gamification. Addressing the right questions within the system and understanding participants in order to be able to assess all the answers in a more qualitative and analytical way.

The Geo-Citizen participation framework: 15 years research, 3 years implementation – now serving societies worldwide Thomas Blaschke (University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria) In Salzburg, they’ve been doing all sort of projects from 1998, Thomas worked in different places in Africa: Mozambique and elsewhere. Also one of their researchers moved to Quito in Ecuador and set out many activities. The GeoCitizen framework is now well established and they are offering services in a company that was established about a year and a half ago from the university. They are offering services to small towns. There is also work of the quality of life and well-being is always relative to persons expectations and experiences. Collaborating with environmental psychologist to explore different aspects.DSC_0117

Karl focused on the geocitizen. The work is linked to Domingo Anjuasg of the Shuar Nationality from the Ecuadorian Amazon who received an award in the Amazon GIS initiative that was noted in last year Esri user conference. This is done with Richard  Resl. The technology of GIS is being used to be visible: because of competition over resources in an area. Richard was asked, 25 years ago, to teach the Shuar on how to create maps. There is a need to reach out to the world. Domingo also wanted to communicate their life plans to the world. The pilot of the Geocitizen was to allow people to discuss how they want to use their territory and how it should be used by people. This led to other cases in a more urban environment such as participatory infrastructure planning for Quito. They’ve done usability studies with marginalised communities to test the system, in Cali, Colombia – working with black communities with people without higher education and ask them to carry out some tasks – mapping tasks are difficult but other familiar tasks from the use of social media was familiar. There is need to know that spatial literacy is a major obstacle. They are considering how to implement serious games as a way to help people understand spatial information. An anecdote from their experience is that when surveyors carry out their work, people who were aiming to rob them of their tablets, turned into respondents once they understood what is it for. Interestingly they brought the methodology back to Austria and using it in a village. the basic concept is from local to multiple case studies. There is also organisational design: having a local leader and facilitators. They are using multiple skills: facilitators, people who are helping in understanding the GIS data, or to work with social media – training people and keeping them motivated. More lessons: neighbourhood scale, and focus on ideas and no complaints. Keep the tool simple but structured, Use local knowledge and transfer it and integrate tools, methods and stakeholders to make things integrated.

The second session was focusing COLLABORATIVE DESIGN

DSC_0124Interoperability and visualization as a support for mental maps to face differences in scale in Brazilian Geodesign processes Ana Clara Mourao Moura (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) presenting for Camila Zynger on the Geodesign is Pampulha in Brazil – it’s an area that Oscar Niemeter started – it’s an area that is becoming famous but also there are challenges because of that. They use the framework of Geodesign, using a framework my Michalle Campagna helped with the process. They follow the process through different models and they’ve iterated through the process 3 times – first finding the basic information and running the model twice so they can ensure that it is done probably. They started with representation models in the first iteration. Significant work was required to create the data for example, in vegetation maps. They’ve classified maps to vulnerability and attractiveness – they included stakeholders representing developers, business, environmental NGOs and which were represented by different university expert. The first iteration didn’t yield useful results. In the 2nd iteration, an effort on youtube was dedicated to recruiting relevant people with local knowledge and in the third iteration they’ve used more printed maps – just using computers alone wasn’t working. As soon as people went to the computer, they left the paper, but this took 40 minutes of working with paper. They created a set of paper maps. The process included a lot of talking about the process and although peopel complained a lot about variables, maps etc. Actually, people wanted just three main variables. They went from Symbology can be more difficult and from using traffic light: that can be confusing and misinterpreted. They have also learned of the need to have focused question for discussion in terms of their outcome. The main contribution of the experiment was to build different futures for the place, to arrive at more specific question that will be put out for a discussion, but also in educating people with the implications of their choices. People understood things that they haven’t understood before.

DSC_0121Collaboration in planning: the Geodesign approach Michele Campagna, Chiara Cocco (University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy) the software for a new planning support system, it is important and helps in explaining the concepts beyond that. Starting from Arnstein 1969 ladder,  other models started to emerge specifically for technology – specifically Kingston 1998 and Carver in 2001. In particular Kingston model focusing participation in interest and agenda, assessing risk and making a decision. In public participation we need to thinks about groups – participants, communities, NGOs, and in participatory planning the planner role has changed: the role of an expert that is also act as a coordinator. The case that they discussed running a geodesign case of Cagliari metro area in Sardinia. They have a municipal plans, but also a need to collaborate with other nearby municipalities (17 of them) and they don’t have the culture of participation. They carried out a workshop over 2 days. They have thought about a forecast of 20 years ahead and thought about 10 possible areas of different systems and aspects. They’ve started from an analysis of regulations and plans and that allowed them to set those systems that will be the focus of the study. They split systems to aspects that they want to protect (e.g. ecology) and develop (e.g. smart industries). They carried out systems impacts model. They also integrated this cost models. The workshop gave training to about 30 people from the university but also professionals from across the area – they played the roles of different stakeholders. The workshop provide a good connection to allow heavy interactions. They also created a paper booklet. Asked the participants to work as experts group on each area of the 10 area. People were also set to different groups – and then started to create synthesis and measured some of the impacts and measured visually the impacts of the proposed changes – positive and negatives. They also analysed the compatibility between groups and started negotiations and evaluating different models. Carried out two synthesis and the final discussion was more tensions, and then they’ve ended with an agreed model. Planners, public administration, stakeholder and community members demonstrate that they can provide an input in different stages. The synthesis require the widest participation

DSC_0125Geodesign in Pampulha cultural and heritage urban area: visualization tools to orchestrate urban growth and dynamic transformations Ana Clara Mourao Moura (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) This talk focus on a place where there is a historical place – cultural heritage in Quadrilatero Ferrifero – it’s an important place with urban growth, mining, cultural heritage and the beginning of the Brazilian culture. They were influenced by McHarg and Steinitz works. They created representation models and again need to produce data over two months. They’ve done that with 10 researchers from the federal university. This allows them to move to process models and evaluation model. They used existing and three levels of green for acceptable and yellow for not appropriate. They started evaluating alternatives. They had 6 teams including people from communities, DSC_0120NGOs, and they’ve set out groups that focus on change and another group that focuses on conservation. They discussed the different options. People were not linking reality to the maps and where more interacting with the system – people didn’t understand where they locate the diagrams and their meaning. To address that, they need to link reality and digital representation – used 3D visualisation and relied on Bishr 1998 and allow interoperability with other systems and then could create different visualisations. That allow new ways of understanding the designs. By having a 3D representation people could use maps better and deal with scale problems. Conclusions: geodesign is about alternative futures, and we need to share decisions and we need communication between people and between machines. We need to deal with reality, mental maps and digital representation.

First Life. A geo-social network to support participation in urban design Alessia Calafiore, Lucia Lupi (Univeristy of Torino, Torino, Italy)DSC_0126 Firstlife is a geo-social network to support participation in urban design and cities, It is about collecting georeferenced systems – places, groups, news and events and think about relationships among them and on a temporal scale. The map allows filtering by time or by groups. – There are multiple point-of-views – a school can be viewed from students, parents, teachers. Although they’ve started with points of interest, they now dealing with building blocks of the base-map – such as selecting the whole building and trying to deal with the geometry according to the scale. The platform is addressing different aspects and objectives: from issues such as regeneration. In that area, they collect data to document projects and initiatives and to follow-up and continuity. They try a project with 6 municipalities, 30 schools, 60 teachers and 70 classes. The project started with planning activities, they design the decision about the guidelines for mapping activities and then collecting information with proposals about sites for regeneration. Workshops were carried out with a different group and they had a problem with students you need to deal with the topic, and with teachers, you need to train on the use of the platforms. They used the process itself and mapped it in FirstLIfe (such as recording where training happened). The tours allow participants to select potential locations for regeneration. There are also focus group events to ensure that offline event are recorded and shared on the system. The follow up is to select proposals for recommendations on regeneration. The information is at

DSC_0128Social participation in determining air quality in agglomerationsBeata Jasiewicz, Jarosław Jasiewicz, Waldemar Ratajczak, Alfred Stach, Maciej Stroiński (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) collaboration between chemistry, and geosciences. The case in Poznan – city is not about the physical space but also for people. Air quality is of growing awareness in Poland – in Cracow, Poznan and other places. It is becoming an important political issue. There are also penalties for municipalities that are ignoring smog. There 300 alarms of passing the limits of PM10 300 times which is amongst the highest in Europe. There is a concentration of PM10/PM2.5 in Poznan and NO2 across the city with 18 exceedances a year and light on the side of SO2. There are many issues that affect the legal efficiency of addressing air quality at the regional level. There is a continued interest in air quality – in internet queries they see questions about NOx. However, some specialised terms are less searched online by the public: e.g. PM10 became a search term only in 2017, and other term are not searched at all. In Poznan got only 4 monitoring stations with only 2 continuous monitoring – people want to see warning being communicated to them. From the political point of view, the protection of the environment is centralised in the Ministry of Environmental Protection with state councils on nature conservation and another one of environment protection (experts in different areas). Also have general inspect of environment protection. They have a provincial governor (Voivode) who also have provincial inspect of environmental protection and other systems that are similar to the national system. At the provincial level, there are different mechanisms: public consultations, linking to NGOs, Public independent initiatives, and of course citizen independent actions and protest – but they also have independent citizens budget. At the city they have the city council and the mayor who have environmental functions. The regional council also have environmental functions with a provincial fund for environmental protection. Offering new ideas require negotiating with lots of organisation. They try to address the problem through Public Independent initiative at the city level – with the mayor and city council. To do that, They look at the opportunity of smart and digital city and consider sensors of air quality. Also what to consider forecasting of the conditions through emission data, topographical data and weather data. They started doing simulations of pollutants dispersion in the city and also consider modelling air movement in the street. They are now consider applications and services that will help people plan where they should go and for outdoor activities. They already go system that involved communities in Krakow, Wroclaw, and also looked at other systems.

The afternoon session focus on APPLICATION CASE STUDIES

Applications of Geoweb Methods in Urban Planning on the Examples of Selected Polish Cities Edyta Bąkowska, Marek Młodkowski, Łukasz Mikuła (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) Edyta project aim to support public participation in urban planning and they notice that in the development in Poland the collecting proposal at the beginning of the proposal and in collecting opinions in the draft stage of the plan. DSC_0130-1This includes a public presentation of the plan, public discussion, and formal motions for alterations. This last 3 weeks. There are especially developing a geo-questionnaire tool to collect proposals, and a geo-discussion tool to collect opinions and public discussion. In the project, they’ve done 10 public consultation processes – 6 with geo-questionnaire, and 4 that include both tools. They so far had 7500 active participants and further 97 participants in 2 geo-discussion. The cases are in the Poznan agglomeration. The cases include land use plans, urban design and urban renewal, transportation, quality of life diagnosis. The area could be as small as 1 ha to 200,000 ha. In Rokietnica they had an interesting case – a fast growing area, doubling in people over 10 years. They prepare a demographic forecast that expected to double in size, and at the centre, there is a site of 16 ha that is derelict. They’ve used a structured process and carried out the questionnaire in December 2015, and the geo-discussion in May/June 2017. The process is a long one, in terms of transferring land-use plan to the system. The geo-questionnaire 435 participants, about 3.3% of the resident in the village with over-representation of 25-45. In the geo-discussion, 65 people participated, with 131 discussions and 51% are in the 25-34 age range. The planning result is that views from the geo-questionnaire have influenced the planning, but the planners decided to put in multi-family buildings while the participants suggested single family houses. Strong opinions about the suggested density were expressed in the geo-discussion. We need legal regulations to use tools but also to support their information – there is still too much of a check box attitude. There are problems with the use of information from participatory processes in action. What do we need

DSC_0131An Integrated Approach to Public Participation in Urban Planning with Geoweb Methods Michał Czepkiewicz (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poznań, Poland; University of Iceland, Iceland), Piotr Jankowski (San Diego State University, San Diego, USA; Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poznań, Poland), Cezary Brudka (Poznań University of Economics and Business, Poznań, Poland) Cezary explored the ability to thinks about the urban planning phases and supporting the designers in what they need to integrate the tools into the process of urban planning. They are building on EAST” from Jankowski 2011.

They see the socio-institutional context of the participatory process, considering the participants and the technology: design consideration. They proposed several dimensions – include which planning approach is used – the use Kahila-Tani 2015 concepts of planner-centred and restricted information premise, so try to move towards more collaborative planning. They see the need to consider the diagnosis of the current situation. They identify the tools can match knowledge and flow of knowledge between participants – e.g. geo-questionnaire that provide information from participant to the convener, but not support communication between participants. They also pay attention to the linkage and transfer of information – is it about just informing? is it about fuller communication? There are cases that feedback is not even captured with the tool. They have a case of a bottom-up approach by an NGO in Poznan and it is mostly about initiation – generating ideas about what the city needs to do. Using geo-questionnaire provide one-way communication but then a step of sharing information. In another case, they elicit local knowledge and preferences.  We can also think about other stages, so as the need to inform the public about the plan. In the Polish case, they need to move from the rationalistic planning focus toward communicative and evidence based.

DSC_0138Volunteered Geographic Information for planning: the case for „emergent” cycle lanes in Cities Antonello Romano, Stefano Picascia (University of Siena, Siena, Italy) Stefano looking at ways of integrating VGI into the planning process. They are looking at VGI and assuming wisdom of crowds, and specifically looking at Strava data that is coming from bicycle users. The data are sold for profit – a wealth of data that can be useful. They explore the options of using this data to help planning of cycle routes – identifying routes where a high number of trips are taken. Arguably the network is emerging from multiple cyclists – also need to consider why these routes emerge. To understand the data there is a need to use infrastructure data such as planning cycling network, but also need to combine topography, information about incidents and accidents and other bits of information to be able to explain the patterns. Trips that are on the cycling network and those that outside help to reveal the usability of the current cycling network. For example, roundabouts and places where the cycle network do not continue. Some ideas in Rome do not match the data and there are questions if we should use Strava data. There are problems with this data: data quality and accuracy, demographic profile, price, ethics. Elderly cyclists don’t use apps. There is an issue of data that is valuable for society, but companies are locked by the company and you can’t gain access to it.


The final part of the workshop was structured discussion around seven points:

first, understanding ICT by people belonging to different groups – concern about digital exclusion? The first point, there is an increasing engagement with technology, but because of the persistence of the age distribution we seem to have an issue with people at an older age, and therefore need to have strategies for inclusion. Another participant pointed about collaboration between millennials and older people as one way to address this. On the other hand, pointed that older groups to acquire and learn are lower than younger people so need to consider how AI assistant will be involved. Where we are right now, we need to be aware of the ever-changing technology need to consider how it may be narrow with future technology. There are natural problems. There are also about issues and sometimes the issue is the one that leads to certain focus.

Secondly, experiences concerning to legal regulations in the context of participation: in urban planning, there are regulations in Italy that open the option but don’t mandate it. Need to be aware of implications to different bodies. In Ireland, data protection and ownership are coming as a major concern for organisations about what is collected and where. In Brazil, there is a law that requires participation in planning, but what type of participation and which level of participation is not being set. In the USA, there is a very much federal system that allows independent bodies to collaborate – counties do have a lot of power, and cities do their own planning. Based on the ideas of federalism they do things their own way. Some cities are more participatory due to their culture, while other are not trying to engage people. Poland seeing growth in soft informal planning – pre-planning process that open opportunities for planning.

Third, what are necessary conditions for cooperation between city planners and public participation representatives – in Italy it is impacted by the wider atmosphere, with planners being limited by the current politics and guidance. In the Polish system, the city planners are also limited within their focus and remit – they are not asked to do public participation. Other experiences in Poland point that planners have specific needs for information and it requires a top-down process to allow for public participation. There is a need for a process that allows for symmetric information exchange. In Brazil, they want to be the authors of the designers of the city and they somewhat resist to be the decoder of collective values. There are also restrictions in terms of the role and what is expected from the private or the public planner. For example, if the private planner office does not want to expose the information to the public, the public planner is limited in what they can do. There are situations in which the public and private actors should work together to engage the public.

The fourth, point looked at popularity of new methods, this is different in locations according to their legal and organisational structures.

Fifth, the role of social movements in shaping of liveability in cities. Social movement make problems visible and showing problems – but they then require the experts to be involved in setting it out. They have a role to highlight issue, and because planning and city management is longer time scale, the relationships are more complex.

Sixth, regarding new methods and tools that will be most useful: visualisation is important for communication. Techniques (e.g. Space Syntax) also old tools of sketching and also existing methodologies. Augmented Reality. DIY science and data collection will come along, and in social science there are questions about using existing data sets and collaborating systems and the used of stuff that is already out there.

Finally, also the issues of linkage between information from participatory methods and tools and choices made by decision makers – and constraints on the use of information accessible and usable. Getting access to data is a problem inside organisations and sometimes there can be changing the way people structure processes. Also, wide scale political processes and general atmosphere communicate to the public and the planners if the is more scope for participation and if it will take in seriously or not.

PPGIS 2017 – Poznan, Poland (Day 1) – different notions and tools of public participation GIS

These notes are from the workshop Modern Methods and Tools for Public Participation in Urban Planning 2017, held in Palac Obrzycko near Poznan, Poland on 22nd and 23rd June 2017 – the outline of the workshop stated “Researchers and practitioners of urban planning have had a variable interest in developing and applying methods of public participation since the 1970s… The interest in methods accelerated in the mid-1990s, accompanied by the developments in public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) and participatory GIS (PGIS). The arrival of Web 2.0 in the 2000s and improvements in geographic information technologies resulted in the proliferation of geographically related tools and Web services (Geoweb) for individuals and groups. Developments in P/PGIS, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and Geoweb have been recently paralleled by the growth of holistic approach to public participation in urban planning exemplified by Geodesign – a process relying on geographic digital methods and tools for integrating analysis, evaluation, design and public involvement in urban and regional planning. Despite much interest in participatory methods rooted in mapping and visualisation of geographical data, there has not been a gathering of scholars in P/PGIS, VGI, Geoweb, and Geodesign sharing their research and learning from one another.” (see

Piotr Jankowski opened the meeting explaining the background of the symposium explaining a local project at the Adam Mickiewicz University on participatory GIS and geodesign in Poznan. The workshop is mostly by invitation and was set to allow for detailed discussions. The purpose is to have a discussion on the themes of participatory GIS, citizen science, VGI, Geodesign and urban planning.

Marketta Kyttä (Aalto University, Aalto, Finland) – gave the keynote address to start the workshop. Marketta talked about 10 years of public participation GIS research and practice in Finland, reflecting on the experience since 2000. From a background in environment psychology, with a PhD in architecture, had an interest in the human side. There are claims that tacit and experiential knowledge cannot be integrated into design and practice. In the 1990s, she felt that environmental psychology is focusing on the person and how they feel, but forgotten about the environment. She believes that the interaction between the environment and the person is generating experiences, and there were few approaches to thinking about it – there are precedents from Wohlwill in 1973, pointing the environment is not in the head and others. Her work got into place-based, “softGIS” – as psychologist heard about it and wanted to study about human behaviour and experience over the physical environment. Thinking about how to link perceptions and emotions and the different ways of understanding space with a physical location. The new methodology was started in 2003 and the first prototype was developed in 2005, but the technology was weak. They then progressed to SoftGIS survey tools which are more robust technically, but each survey requires a lot of investment. This is now evolved to maptionnaire service that allows using these in a more structured way since 2015. They have done projects in Japan, or in USA, or in Aalto University campus, and many other places. Through the literature, she discovered relevant areas which she was not aware of at the beginning – PGIS, PPGIS, Citizen Science, VGI. The work that they’ve been doing is the nearest to Greg Brown – conceptually and structurally there are many similarities in the methodology. She sees the person-environmental relationship and participatory planning are in yin-yang relationship – they contribute to each other. They have looked at social sustainability, mobility, environmental memories and more. Across different groups – from children to elderly. Also at different scales, various planning stages, and various planning approaches. They have done over 70 research project that used place-based research ad over 150 participatory planning projects. Cases that were analysed between 2013-2017 show majority of participatory cases in planning – over 46% and 27% in research. The personal relationship to participatory planning – on how the effort of participatory planning is for few people to show up and lots of time have negative views. There are some people who are activists – but not all of us this way. There need to be an additional way of engaging people for people who are less assertive. The Finnish law mandated participatory planning since 2000, but things haven’t changed over the night and a slow process: only a handful of people participate, participation tool late, non-influential participation, concentration on resisting changes, data that have been collected is invisible, and the process is demanding process for the organisers and the participants. The experience of using PPGIS as a crowdsourcing tool in urban planning – a questionnaire tool. The pros are data volume, high quality and usable knowledge, foster collaborative participation. The cons are issues of digitalisation, limitations in the digital process, data quality, and practices in planning regarding the use of the information.

Data volume online allows collecting large datasets with little effort, and facilitating inclusiveness – wider groups of people that can be reached (2100 respondent about water in Helsinki), the representativeness look good across classes – the impact of level of education, but generally it can be argued that it is a representative group. There is also an ability to provide the same tool in different languages and reach different groups, and children and young people with appropriate tools. Children can give good quality data. It is also an easier way to reach a wider group of participants – getting 3750 people responding to get Helsinki Master Plan survey, with 33,000 place marking.

The second point that the data is high quality and usable knowledge – the methodology fosters individual participation – Kahila-Tani (2016) pointed about individual participation and collective participation issues – an ability to maintain the diversity of opinion, also independence, decentralisation, but it also requires aggregation. The maps allow a new type of knowledge in a visible format – such as the location of new building and green areas. Also allowing to do different analysis of green structures, and finding out about people home and which places they notice and use buffering to calculate densities around it. Using urban structure, behavioural and experiential factors, and then linked it to health and wellbeing. In the city centre, they found one set of a link: density increases the perceived environmental quality if it brings the everyday services closer. In the suburbs, the closer the services were, the lower the perceived environmental quality – why is this happening in the suburbs is a question. PPGIS allows for exploring different context.

Can we foster deep collaboration? The Maptionnaire tool allows the creation of a geographical survey with the survey. Asking many questions to participants. Reaching out to participants can be done by a representative sample and trying to reach them, sometimes offline, or more opportunistic approaches of using publicity online, or through a specific event. In a public-participation support system (Kahila-Tani 2016) considered the different stages that have participation potential, and the initiation phase is important. This was indeed in many cases the way Maptionnaire is being used. Is the participation influential in terms of impacting on the decision process. In the Helsinki master plan it was possible to see the impact of suggestion as the plan was published on a grid, and it was possible to compare it to the public survey and it shows that about 25% of the areas that people want to protect are threatened by the plan. PPGIS can be also integrated into existing systems, which is demonstrated in the City of Lahti.

The issues in PPGIS include first, use of digitisation: digital divide, technology stress that exists among older participants – examining people over 80s, addressing the problems in the redesign of the application.

Second, it is important to see the PPGIS in addition to deliberative processes that are linked to PPGIS data – people pointed that the PPGIS data is wrong as it didn’t represent their opinion.

Third, there are issues of data quality: representatives, cherry picking, user privacy, manipulation, and skills to use the data. The Helsinki data is over-represented in 20-40 year old. Because the issue is about the opportunity to participate and not only about representativeness. It is possible to compare the representative sample with the wider response. All sort of arguments: other age groups are represented in other processes, or that they will be impacted by the programme, etc.

Fourth, there are also ineffective planning practices: lack of willingness to allow participation or influence, challenges in integrating the data into practice, and there is also an issue that surveys are a continuation of top-down participation. There is a demand towards co-created surveys and co-analysed data sets. There aren’t examples for this and that is a future challenge. PPGIS can be used as a therapeutic participatory device

There are pros and cons – where is the balance. We can think about smart participation using social media – Foursquare, Instagram, OpenStreetMap or Twitter – we need to think about how to make them work. Looking ah how high-quality GIS knowledge from people can support smart, friendly urban planning.


14:30 – 15:00: Examining the values that are embedded in the processes and technologies of participatory GIS.
Muki Haklay (University College London, London, Great Britain) My talk started with noting that a persistent question about participatory methodologies that rely on technologies, such as public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS), is how to integrate values, such as inclusiveness of all the people that are impacted by a decision, or identifying options that are popular with the majority but acceptable to the minority, within technologically focused projects. Moreover, technologies do not operate by themselves – they are embedded in organisational, political, and social processes that set how they are used, who can use them, and in what context. Therefore, we should explore where the values reside? Two factors obscure our view: The misleading conceptualisation that technologies are value free, and can be used for good or for bad – which put all the weight on the process and ignores the way in which any technology allows only certain actions to be taken. Another popular view of technology conceptualisation is to emphasise their advantages (upside) and ignore their limitations. If we move beyond these, and other “common sense” views of technologies, we can notice how process and technology intertwine.

We can, therefore, look at the way the process/technology reinforce and limit each other, and the way that the values are integrated and influence them. With this analysis, we can also consider how technological development can explicitly include considerations of values, and be philosophically, politically, and social theory informed. We need to consider the roles, skills, and knowledge of the people that are involved in each part of the process – from community facilitation to software development.

The talk draws on the experience of developing participatory geographic information technologies over the past 20 years and will suggest future directions for values-based participatory technology development.

Formal ontologies to support participatory urban planning through the prism of roles theory
Alessia Calafiore (University of Torino, Torino, Italy) – covering aspects of Firstlife – which is about collecting knowledge through crowdsourcing and then support for informed urban planning. The aim is collecting information about places and representation in place. A practical concern in GIS is to make explicit the assumption about daily special experiences. How is place specially constructed? People behaviour is many times unexpected – places that can be used to unexpected use. In an ontological analysis, she tries to represent spatially located social practices. Urban artefacts are interacting with people through social practices. She’s developed her concept on the DOLCE ontological framework. She went on to define urban artefacts – including design and normative constraints and look at some of the aspects that are rigid. A social place is a non-rigid aspect of a space and she’s using social roles theory for this aspect. She defines social practices with predicate logic

G-ICT and creative thinking in the context of urban resilience
Zorica Nedovic-Budic, Aoife Corcoran (University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland) – talking about the role of geographical ICT in creative thinking on urban planning, based on the result of TURAS project ( She specifically looking on several projects: reusing Dublin, Meadows Timeline, and TwitterGI. She specifically looking a the way these ICT tools can be used to improve resilience. Addressing issues such as flooding, lack of green infrastructure in inner cities or use of empty spaces. The task for cities is to move to more resilience stage. The city needs to build capacity to address change. Social-ecological resilience is the ability to adapt and transform as results of a change. Her three cases looked at empty places in Dublin, community history and interventions in the Meadows Communities in Nottingham and supporting researchers on urban resilience at UEL in London. In each case, she carried out a focus group with different stakeholders and carried out different tests. In Dublin, ReusingDublin provided 400 entries about different locations that can be used, and in Nottingham, a geographic timeline about the history of an estate.  In London, it was information from Twitter that can assist researchers. Also carried out a serious of events. There is different evident that some of the technologies helped in creating new ideas, but she actually realised that a co-creation process is quite central. The data alone is not enough to generate new ideas but require a more deliberative project. The mutability of technology is important – Reusing Dublin is being used by a homeless charity to raise awareness and collect data that can be used to lead to a change. Citizens + Data = Change – with data, awareness and joint effort. She is now setting the up the space engagers social enterprise to address some spatial issues in different communities in Ireland. Geospatial technologies – by having people engaged for a short time will allow people to get involved in coming up with ideas or contribute to wider social goods. 

Engineering for the local systems of the social participation architecture
Michał Dzięcielski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland), Maciej Kamiński, Maciej Szarejko (Urban Cybernetics Center, Wrocław University of Technology, Worcław, Poland), Sara Zielińska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) – thinking about using ERP tool, lean management to manage a city, but also to have a participatory element. To manage a city, you can’t assume formal order to citizens, but we can’t give complete freedom and anarchy in a city – we’re looking for a golden mean. Suggesting to use Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) that were designed for big companies, so want to have a role for public participation with the outcome of improving the quality of life. The idea of an ERP for a city is the ability to improve city foresight and allow the citizens to show their ideas and how they’ll impact the city. The idea is also to grab ideas from lean management – ensuring that we give citizens the information that will support their needs, and from participatory budgeting, to allow people to create and fund their projects. So their suggested architecture – people who come with ideas, which are going to the participatory projects support office in the city. The PPSO can explore, by using an ERP which projects would result in unwanted outcomes and not improve the quality of life – criteria against which assess projects. Using ERP and lean management by the project support office can help in carrying out such activities in the city.

The afternoon ended with TOOL DEMOS the provided an overview and demonstration of different PPGIS tools.

First GeoCitizen Platform by Karl Atzmanstorfer, Thomas Blaschke (University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria) the GeoCitizen Platform – based on 15 years of work that was done in Salzburg. The platform, – transparent platform for participatory community management with a structured process for communication between all stakeholders and assist decision making processes. They have smartphone interface, web platform, and a management dashboard. The methodology: browsing, collecting geographical information, sharing ideas which are geotagged, then discussing spatial content, rating proposals, and monitoring implementation. The stages that are going through a clear design that show which stage is progressing and aiming to include as many stakeholders as relevant to the process.

The second demonstration was of Geodiscussion Dariusz Walczak (Recoded, Poznań, Poland), Marek Młodkowski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) – the project is about supporting public participation in urban planning through GIS. They demonstrate a case study in a suburban location near Poznan and the discussion was about local urban development plan. The Geo-discussion can be viewed on the web and on a mobile phone. They had 65 users, 131 discussion threads and 575 further activities. The Google analytics show that it’s 25-34 people and a bit more male, mostly using the desktop version. Each thread of the discussion has a unique URL and can be used to direct someone to a specific comment. There are details or people, date, and other bits of information. The administrator point of view can see the threads and content of comments and can hide some comments. The process of setting the system include simplification of the technical document to short prompts that can be open for discussion is an important part of the system. The system includes many considerations on how to address the specific aspects of discussions in a way that produces actionable information for planners.

The final demonstration was of Geodesign by Michele Campagna, Chiara Cocco (University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy) showing their Geodesign system. The origin of the system from work that was done by Carl Steinitz in CASA at UCL. There are many planning styles with different outcomes and methodologies. In design together we need planners and participants from the public to deal with information – so we need simple interfaces. The geodesign framework is the core of Steinitz model of Geodesign. We start with representation models and process models – and then have evaluation models. There is a cycle of data-information-knowledge in the assessment phase and the intervention stage. The demonstration of the Geodesign Hub is a web application that is very long and showing suitability maps that are coloured in a consistent way and the input data can be done either by experts or in a collaborative way. The participants are asked to do diagrams to describe the ideas by different participants. People can copy diagrams of different people and adjust them. Diagrams can be created by experts and by general participants. People can mark the ones that they like especially. Then it is possible to create a synthesis. They can then also check and see the different modelling of different activities and their costs. The hub is supporting the process of calculating costs, comparing options and assessing impacts.

Citizen Science 2017 – Filling the ‘ethics gaps’ in Citizen Science research

The workshop was organised by the ethics working group of the Citizen Science Association, and organised by Anne Bowser – Wilson Center; Lisa Rasmussen – University of North Carolina, Charlotte; Caren Cooper – North Carolina State University and North Carolina Museum of Nature Sciences. The charter for the working group was to identify what are the ethical issues in citizen science. The gap in citizen science is not just mechanisms and regulations, but also that you are likely to fall into an ethical dilemma. The goal is to identify good and inclusive mechanisms for gathering input to a conference in July 2018 on citizen science ethics with people from STS, philosophy, citizen science and other areas. People tend to fall into regulatory aspects of ethical approval, but want to separate it and navigate two systems – ethics as in what you should do and the other is what is done within regulations about human subjects. The expertise that are needed to explore ethical issues includes federal agencies (e.g. EPA), STS scholars. practitioners. Community-based researcher, students, IRB chair, a lawyer.

What are the important ethical issues in citizen science, and identify areas that need to be explored further? liability; outcomes – identify and issue through the project, and then what you do with it?; regulatory aspects of working with human subjects; Technological issues – recording people (audio, image); Non-professional and lack of shared understanding of ethics; Equity, access, and inclusivity; informed consent – how we do it; Transparency – around data ownership and use; Duty of care – to participants in safety and in wellbeing; activism vs. neutrality; organisation without traditional oversight; labour ethics – exploitation; ethics of workarounds and implications to people; Intellectual property and attribution; privacy; roles in technologies and the way that way they facilitate platforms; power relationship within technology; indigenous and traditional knowledge; communication about research integrity; Responsible practices towards the environment; authority/credentials/expertise; Democratisations; community norms; multiple epistemological and ontological approaches toward science and its outcome.

Considering potential ethical framework – can think about regulatory framework, typology framework, other possibilities – Resnik, Elliott and Miller paper on ethics for citizen science, or Vayena & Tasioulas citizen science rights paper or ECSA 10 principles.  There is a framework by Caren Cooper that maps the type of research areas in citizen science that can help in mapping the ethical issues and challenges.

There is clear value in articulating why citizen science as an area deserves special attention in terms of thinking about ethics and the reasons to think about it. There is also a potential of harming the field of citizen science by thinking about the side effect of ethical guidelines – and that can be considered within the lifetime of a project. A report about ethics and some guidelines can assist the field as it grows: there are more people entering and developing projects, and therefore there can be issues emerging that might undermine the field as a whole. It’s therefore used to have a stance about ethics to identify when these are breached. There is also a need for a toolkit with templates and guidelines that can be adapted for a specific project.

The ethics working group of the Citizen Science Association will start collecting case studies and examples of ethics documents that can be used. There is a call for papers to develop a virtual issue for Citizen Science Theory and Practice.

For more information about the ethics working group see 

Citizen Science 2017 – Day 2 (Afternoon) – online projects insights and final reception with The Crowd and the Cloud

The afternoon session started with Web development insights


Taking on the Challenges of Broadening Participation in Data Visualization and Analysis with FieldScope
Daniel Edelson – BSCS – cover fieldscope that allow people to collect data, design the form, and visualise and analyse it. He covered the Chesapeake Watershed Water Quality study. The area that influences the bay is a very large area. Information is being collected at times when school is doing things, so there are issues with the variability of data collection. Challenges to collect data – very few teachers and students get to the stage of analysing. All the time allocated was used to get people to the stage of data collection, and people used certain analysis tools to understand where to collect data. They want to have flexibility in data protocols, aimed at more reliable participation, and try to get people to analysis. The lesson is that effort should be paid to more active and structured process of engagement and involving schools in the process.

Patterns of Behaviour Across Online Citizen Science
Chris Lintott –; Helen Spiers* – University of Oxford; Grant Miller – University of Oxford / Zooniverse; Lucy Fortson – University of Minnesota; Laura Trouille – Adler Planetarium. Zoonivrse is now 10 years, with many projects, and pull data from 63 projects (ecology and astronomy) from 2012 to 2016 with 146,243,599 classification dataset. Looking at different classifications – in the first 100 days post launch, there is a range of classification. Projects have a peak after the launch and drop, apart from regular communication with the. High heterogeneity in the number of unique volunteers, with more volunteers in Astronomy. There is participation inequality across the projects. What they see from google analytics is that projects appeal across projects. in astronomy more male participation, closer participation by females in ecology. There are questions about what to do with over and under-represented groups. They are also analysing user movement between projects.

Validated Dynamic Consensus Approach for Citizen Science Projects Employing Crowd-based Detection Tasks
Pietro Michelucci – Human Computation Institute. Pietro runs with EyesonAlz and want to share problem and solutions. The goal is crowdsourced classification and wants to explore things. They had a problem with random responders with bots, also people who want to do other malicious things – so using lessons from psycho-physics – learning about separating sensitivity and bias – the operator need to decide if it is real object that requires alarm, in signal detection theory you can tease apart the sensitivity of the apparatus to the bias of the operator. When using an approach that measures the process of putting information in. Another problem is how you combine the results from the crowd. They carried out validation study and found that around 15 they get into the research threshold that they can use the data. They use 20 classifications to get high quality of data. Another problem is analytic efficiency – not to waste people time and they started assigning weights to a participant and stop when you have enough information – a paper from Willett et al. 2013 on Galaxy Zoo 2 that allow you to assess expertise. Marshall et al. 2015 Space Warps paper and extends this approach to measuring in a collective way. The number is between 2 and 10 and usually 5 so it is much better to use of people’s time.

Working Together: Developers and Project Leads
Robert Pastel – Michigan Technological University – app development is not done in a vacuum: participants, developers and project lead. For a successful application, all those core participants need to work together. The methodology includes participatory design and UCD principles, together with an Agile development. The participatory design is done with project leads. Aiming to have an MVP in the first three months and starting a new app development after it.



DSC_0349A ‘Night in the Cloud’  – Geoff described the background in TV programming and the noticing that there are plenty of definition of citizen science, but for the Crowd and the Cloud, they use “science for, and by, the people” – and they set the programme to turn viewers to doors. Waleed recalls his interest in science – and he pointed to “earth rising” and the “blue marble” as influential ways of viewing the earth. There is also the power of face to face the perspective of close and personal. There is impressive data – 2.3m volunteers in environmental conservation – $2.5b worth of effort. Rick Bonney pointed that for many years, there was a need to see involvement of television in making citizen science visible, and when Geoff called, and after quick google check which reveal the involvement in Cosmos, he contacted him back to support the process of the programme. The programme also helped with EyesOnAltz that address the analysis of vessels in a video. The visibility of the project on the Crowd and the Cloud has helped in increasing participation. Waleed was noticing the commitments and interest of participants and enthusiasm and connection to the environment. The best way for high-quality data is to care passionately about what they are measuring. Jennifer Shirk – used resources from the crowd and the cloud to create a programme for out of school activities. The link to SciStarter helped in converting viewers to active participants and Waleed was struck by the commitment and passion of participants and their commitment to producing real science of high quality. The close and personal perspective is important to understand the world and the potential of it.

Below are the clips that were prepared by the crown and the cloud – the second shows the late Gill Conquest



Citizen Science 2017 – Day 2 (Morning) – Biohacking, traditional ecological knowledge, and science communication

DSC_0324Keynote by Dr. Ellen Jorgensen is co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace, a community biolab. She brings DIY-Bio to the conference. Her experience from the previous conference was the experience of “people want me only for my visual cortex” – contributory projects that are science led. Ellen interested in Public driven, public analysed of citizen science. Scientists are in the group by their voice is not stronger from anyone else. Publication is not the only major goal. DIY bio started in Boston our of the iGEM competition, with the development from SynBio – a level of abstractions that allow genetic engineering that opens up the ability of amateur to join genetic engineering. DIYbio is a mix from maker movement, synbio and cheap DNA & second-hand equipment. DSC_0326The core question for her was: Can the general public join in to understand molecular biology better? The biohacking labs came up through crowdfunding for equipment, then finding space. Genespace started about space in NYC in someone’s kitchen. The interesting thing was that people were fascinated by something that at work, she did every day. Taking pictures of the DNA going in the gel. Recreate space where we enter science – interesting, cool, and enquiry and tinkering, while ensuring that it is safe. Started doing things like going out to a park and extracting DNA from fruit and veg in a local market. Strawberry DNA extraction – to people to establish a lab was a radical idea. The press continues to be interested – creating community biotech lab fascinated and raised questions. The model is a membership organisation and also doing outreach and exploring. In order to facilitate the place, they hooked people on their advisory board – e.g. the head of safety at MIT. They found that membership wasn’t enough, and they started running classes – exposing people to biotech, and after classes people joined. At the beginning, a lot of personal time was invested before the organisation become established. There was a lot of interest from artists who wanted to explore bio-art, e.g. DSC_0327the work around picking up chewing gum, and suggesting reconstruction of faces from that which caused a big noise. They developed the organisation by working with other bodies in order to gain legitimacy. Joining an iGEM competition with college students was extended to high school. The issue with the default outreach is that people with higher science capital found about genespace, but not local communities or people from less strong socioeconomic background, they now have a programme that reach out to public schools in Brooklyn and she is involved in active outreach to under-represented groups. The balk of the citizen science work was from people that took the class, so the issue was to consider how to increase engagement. She brought from Alaska plant sample, and that was entry point to a more intensive project. Guwanus Canal project, analysing bacteria that are living in an area that is about to be reconstructed – all sort of atypical life forms that can be potentially used to address polluted area. About 50% was not identified, so there is plenty of things to learn about it. And there is a website on the microbiology about the canal and there is also presentation.

The space is also supporting entrepreneurship – for example, OpenTrons that build cheap rpipette,pette , and that can allow it to be used in more laboratory, and the interface is much better. From California came “real vegan cheese” they had a range or project. Some projects are really controversial – making a glowing plant. The controversial thing was done on kickstarted – it was showing public interest in GM product, plus the issue of giving seeds raised major opposition. There is also an open insulin project to try to re-engineer bacteria to make insulin which was one of the early projects. Very few people can get into deep engagement, but it is worthwhile to allow exploring projects that won’t emerge in regular paths. The community is diverse and a way to address genetic engineering, through the experience with children. The way they operate is to allow people to use space for any project – for profit or not for it, the way they want. Genespace project a platform for people to work, and they need to fit into the space and the safety procedures. Biosafety law is to be careful and not amplify something that is unknown.

Following the keynote, the second session focused on The power of traditional knowledge

Fostering Resilience and Adaptation to Drought in the High Plains: Ethically Engaging Communities Throughout the Research Process
Jacqueline Vadjunec* – Oklahoma State University/ Department of Geography; Todd Fagin – Oklahoma Biological Survey; Nicole Colston – Oklahoma State University, Department of Geography. The 5 state area is one that have a lot of environmental stressors – where the dust bowl started. Her routes are in Participatory Action Research, with links to liberation theology and human centred approach. An approach that includes all stakeholders and it doesn’t privilege the researcher or the science. Science is valued as traditional knowledge. She was trained in the tropics, and it’s a project about a long-term drought that started with self funding. Some entry points for using participatory methods for citizen science – developing questions and deliverable together. They started assisting a citizen science project about data sharing on hydrology and involving geologists and local hydrologists – they now getting into grant writing. Another thing is to support local museums – archiving, extracting data from microfiche and all sort of support activities. She also using the interaction with the community as a teaching opportunity for the student that work with the needs of the students. Another thing is creating safe spaces for discussion on contested issues. They have done a lot of participatory mapping and capturing hazards and risk mapping. Local knowledge plenty of time matches scientific analysis.DSC_0329 They created storymaps as a way to share information – discussion over what is shared and not. Willing to help the community and support their work.

The advantages – better science and ensuring that data is verified with local knowledge, increased participation. It brings strong social capital, and ethical issues as the core. On the challenges, it require a lot of attention and agreeing to do things.

The Transformative Capacity of Citizen Science to Empower and Enable Agro-pastoral Communities to Adapt Their Governance of Natural Resource in the Remote Tianshan Mountains in Central Asia
DSC_0331Mark Foggin, Altyn Kapalova, Lira Sagynbekova,  Azamat Azarov*, Evgenii Shibkov, Aline Rosset, Jangyl Ismailova, Samat Kalmuratov, Christian Hergarten – Mountain Societies Research Institute, University of Central Asia – Working in Kyrgyzstan and describing two projects with communities. The learning landscape initiative are about creating long-term monitoring of social and ecological systems, and they want to work in different countries. Citizen science is seen as integral to the learning landscape initiative. The area is dependent on agriculture and livestock, so agro-pastoral practices and there was land degradation, there is a lack of environmental data since independent, and there is no data sharing between research and local land use decision-making bodies. They carry out their study in Naryn province -a mountain environmental virtual observatory using weather station, cameratraps and cybertracker.  and a specific “Kyrgyz mountains environmental education and citizen science project”. The project provide better climatic data and information about wildlife  – specifically in Salkyntor National Park and Naryn State Nature Reserve.  There are challenges in maintaining data collection by pastoralists. The work with schools and shared information. Cybertracker design was done by experts for pastoral community and national park.

Why We Lose Traditional Ecological Knowledge and How Citizen Science Can Help Us Rebuild Our Knowledge Banks
Madhusudan Katti – North Carolina State University – the first nations protocol: giving thanks to the first nations on whom their land we’re holding the conference. What we are doing can erase previous systems of knowledge. What is that we know about nature and how we understand it? How our knowledge decay and can be restored? Humans pay attention to nature – stars, animal, environment. We have our mind that we put forward – we are a way for the cosmos to understand itself (Carl Sagan). Formal science is one way of knowing ourselves. We pay attention to nature – diverting people from screens. Paying attention and acquiring knowledge, depend if you need to live on nature, or is it mediated through technology and markets. Those living in the city may know where the near coffee shop. Direct connection to nature can lead to an understanding of nature that also can help ecologists. He mentioned about changed in local ecological knowledge. When a relationship are extractive – just paying to provide information, it can cause unexpected cultural changes, while working together with an ecologist, there was mutual knowledge exchange that enhanced the experience of nature for both sides. Science and technology can also destroy existing knowledge systems and mutual appreciation can increase the pool of knowledge.

Learning to Work with Nature: Designing for a Shared Intelligence on Fundamental Processes Such as Soil Function
Peter Donovan – Soil Carbon Coalition – As a society we manage issues piecewise that looks at different issues, instead of looking in a more holistic way, with skirmishes between different people and interests. Beyond all of it, there are the carbon and water cycles. “Humankind is nature becoming aware of itself” Eliee Reclus (1905) – this is beyond coupled human/nature systems. One way to improve knowledge is to have participatory shared intelligence, leading to appropriate results. If we have bottom-up asset based approach that can help in thinkings on carbon and water cycle. We need to consider repeatability: location, measuring before and after, open data, and people willing and capable to report. Further information is in – facilitating shared intelligence about assets that are supported by communities.

Embrace the Bureaucracy: Navigating Institutional Barriers to Citizen Science
Organizer: Lea Shanley – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Citizen Science: Overcoming Institutional Barriers and Growing a Federal Community
Lea Shanley, South Big Data Innovation Hub, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil

Lea covered the federal community of practice – to community of practice was bottom up and 300 members – a dynamic learning network. Some agency had citizen science and they reached out to new areas – agency staff worked in silos and 2011 they started linking people together to create connections to share best practices. The worries where trust – data quality, administrative (paper reduction act) and other things. In 2011 convened the Commons Lab in Wilson Center and start to commissioned studies on the “science of citizen science”. They identified barriers and the need to create a toolkit for the federal government to address the needs of these bodies. They tried to align the work with decision maker priorities (e.g. open government, innovation) and also political support. The also addressed legal issues – bring lawyers from the start, increase the funding, inform legislation, provide support to Holden memo.

NASA’s Public Participation Universe: Democratizing Innovation at the U.S. Civil Space Agency
Amy Kaminski, NASA  at NASA they considered how they can increase acceptance of citizen science – both employees and the scientific community. NASA got strategic goals with funding, in-house personnel and agreements with external entities – they are doing research on space and Earth science through space-based missions. Projects such as Stardust@Home and other projects. Citizen science is an exception, not the norm. Science community lack of familiarity – thinking that it’s not science just outreach, questions about data quality, and also facing the review panel and its conservative approach. Applicants don’t take the risk. They created funding opportunities, create a community of practice and explicitly introduce to it in the umbrella language that points to it. They are also fostering collaborations with open innovation communities.

Citizen Science at the US Environmental Protection Agency

DSC_0332Alison Parker*, ORISE fellow hosted by the US Environmental Protection Agency; Barbara Martinez, Conservation X Labs. Considered how crowdsourcing and citizen science at the EPA. Talked to many researchers and scientists at the EPA – it’s the issue “I want to use it, but… “. The paperwork reduction act – administrative structure that requires any data collection from the public need to develop information collection request, publishing twice and requesting permission – this is a major hurdle. There is a report from Robert Gellman who suggested to Embrace the bureaucracy, or have umbrella clearance that will be used for other activities – each project gets approval from OMB, and that facilitate it in 2 weeks instead of several months. The EPA went through activities to create this approval – starting in March 2015 and approving it in April 2016. They used the ECSA Ten Principles contributed to the policy formation and help to define what falls under citizen science. The way to improve adoption was to take several trends: citizen science, IoT, Smart Cities – they made the Smart City Air Challenge to deploy hundreds of sensors to monitor continuously. They received 22 submissions and demonstrated interest. There was partnering with a local organisation – Open Air Baltimore and Lafayette network are deploying system .Citizen scientists are eager to engage with an issue that they care about, partner with others, and share their knowledge. The NACEPT (National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology) report provided a start but they started the process but it is just the beginning.

Implementing citizen science projects within US Geological Survey: opportunities and challenges
Jake Weltzin, USA National Phenology Network and US Geological Survey – you can apply study pressure to change the aircraft carrier that is the government. He run projects as an organisation outside government (.org and not .gov). The Nature’s Notebook is the phenology project – 10 years, thousands of observers with millions of records. The Paper Reduction act is a major obstacles, and they’ve done that after the press release on the million of records and questions about it – need to demonstrate how it minimise burden, justify value of EACH record, and support partners. They also looked at the privacy act – justify request for information, minimise burden, clarify terms of use, maximise security. USGS also have fundamental science practice review – which need to maximise quality, objectivity, ensure reproducibility, traceability – and that makes “opinions those of the USGS” and that is an advantage. Cooperative agreement – working through university that allow nimble development and even a conduit for revenue. There are advantages for the federal government – sustainable funding, planning , document, open access, facilitate innovations.

The Importance of Design in Open Innovation Efforts
Sophia Liu, US Geological Survey

As innovation specialist – specialist in human-centred design. She created in 2013-2014 created Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework. they’ve done the iCoast to take information to improve USGS coastal erosion method. They have been agile UX design – starting from Matlab, then tried with Ruby and PHP. Different technologies allow to try it. Images for pre and post storm allow people to analyse the different. Tools such as magnifying glass that use low res image that helps to understand what is happening with the participants. Actually the design help in data quality. Lots of hacking red tape to understand what is needed – e.g. through small pilots. STOP challenges: socio-cultural, technological, organisational and political/policy

The community of practice wanted to raise awareness, try to streamline the ways to approve it and provide resources – growing the network – not only bottom-up but also top-down. Regarding funding – for small not-for-profit working on disadvantaged communities, complex grant applications are a major obstacle due to funding and time resources. The way to solve that might be to work together through partnerships with government bodies that might have the same goals as you and build personal relationships. Design issues at USGS – the original users are the internal scientists who provide the gold standard set for the process, and also working locally. You must engage with people early on.  

Citizen Science Communication – Connecting Across Disciplines

Organizer: Susanne Hecker – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research/German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

Interconnecting these two fields – citizen science and science communication to discuss it together.

Beyond the deficit model – Communication in citizen science
Susanne Hecker, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research/German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

“Citizen Science is one of the most dramatic development in science communication in recent years” (Lewenstein) – the talk will explore how science is communicated towards the public. DSC_0333She start from a description of a scientist (Hanz) who have knowledge, expertise, and methods. When it comes to the public, Hanz thinks of deficits that the public have – cognitive deficit, lack of interest, deficit of knowledge – it’s a value judgement. The model was challenged –  – in 2016 the journal of science communication explored if the deficit model is dead or not. The literature said that when going to science communication, the deficit model is still there in the way scientists talk to the public. In the 1980s, with the report from the Royal Society, there was a talk about moving toward dialogue and engagement – the scientist get out of the house of science, and now experience face to face integration with the public and seeing the range of ideas and approaches that are there. Kaplan concepts of two communities showed different concerns, language and focus. In citizen science, the communication is more complex – if the project doesn’t do the science communication well, then people go away. The scientists are also not in control – there is an exchange of ideas among the participants, expertise from both sides, traditional knowledge. So what are the main form of a contributory project – need to find out how to motivate people, train, inform, instruct, educate, disseminate, inspire, provide feedback.DSC_0334 In a co-created project there are fewer people and the interaction is more intense, and the participants have their own concerned from personal concerns, to issues about their work – so the science communication aims are different – there is an exchange, negotiations of commons aim, collaborate, create agree and discuss, listen and disseminate. It is important to understand. The main driver for sci comm in citizen science include a dialogue on a par – not everyone has the same power, but it is more about respect. Relevant to communicate things that are relevant to the audience that was to participate. It is important to have transparency about what is happening and what is not happening. Finally you need engagement. There are four key players: scientists, citizens, media, and also communication mediators.


What are the interesting questions about citizen science?
Bruce V. Lewenstein, Cornell University

Valuing citizen science participation for an academics? Where citizen science work and doesn’t work? How do you create a voice to the participants? What is the long-term impact on volunteers? What model of communication are you assuming? How different perception of science influence participation? What are our responsibility? What levels of scientific literacy among participants? How to communicate to policy makers and decision makers the results?

There are three meanings there are two complex: measuring, identify cases – practical things, then there are things of the implications of how we thinks about academia. For many years, there were scientists engaged in policy for people who scientists who engaged in policy process where citizen scientists. There was citizens engaged in science policy through consensus conferences etc. Finally there was participation in the scientific process. He then covered the Irwin/Bonney view of citizen science. Irwin takes the view of engagement in a political and democratic way in science – how publics engaged with the governance of science. Some of the practical questions about communication hit this deeper issue. There is the use of Matthew Fontain Maury who was written out of history despite major mapping effort, because of the competition with the scientific establishment – only the special will know. Maury viewed as something that everyone can contribute – he was Southerner and moved out when the war started, as well as being difficult person, was a reason to write him out. Seeing science as elitist has prevailed since. Part of the problem with the naming of citizen science is coming from the political aspects – is it about opening science or building up forms of elite knowledge.

The common questions are the one that come up usually: data validity, contribution to reliable knowledge, volunteer motivation, what do participants learn? In STS they are calling for papers with more explicit political aspects – civic science, citizen science as resistance, The invisibility of citizen scientists, issues of participation inequality. There are questions about the nature of expertise and who holds it? How does expertise shape openness to participation? Challenges to defining those that are not experts. Who owns data? What is the role of labourers or technicians? What is the role of everyone? How do community based project acquire authority? but ultimately there is questions of citizenship – what are they citizens of? What kind of citizenship

Increase in education might be about challenging the process of challenging expertise – the point of shifting from deficit to engagement are about things that influence the process which are about more complex relationship of knowledge. There are all sort of knowledge, and the deficits are more than just about scientific literacy – think about science literacy within the community. The deficit model assume that the problem is that if problems will just disappear and  they see it in the same way as scientists – but they will have different views and understanding of the world. There is also implicit knowledge that is hard to articulate. Transfer of knowledge doesn’t work simply and require transformation of the knowledge – an underlying assumption that everything will be better if we pass the information. There have been cultural shift within the scientific community that they want to be much more informed about science communication.

Some of the posters that worth noting:

ECSA 10 Principles of Citizen Science