CBC – The Current – How citizen science is changing the research landscape?

Following the publication of a paper in Nature Communications on the use of eBird data for conservation planning, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) dedicated a segment of their “The Current” programme to the role of citizen science. The section explored “How citizen science is changing the research landscape? Online communities and new technology are making it easier than ever for anyone to get involved in scientific research. But how reliable is user-generated data? And what value does it bring to major studies?”

I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti for this programme, and you can hear the section on citizen science here.

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Figure 2 from Schuster et al. 2019: Spatial clustering of species abundance comparison of areas prioritized for weekly and yearly planning. The geographical coverage would not be possible without citizen science data.
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DITOs final event (2): Doing It Together beyond DITOs

This is the second part of the plenary element of the DITOs final event and again, I’m reblogging Alice Sheppard’s notes (and editing them lightly):

The second part of the This is a continuation after the morning’s sessions. The session is based on a panel of other projects that have done work in Europe separately from DITOs, but where there has been some collaboration at least in ideas and potential of taking the lessons from DITOs forward. The session was chaired by Colombe Warin, who is the project officer of DITOs. The projects include:

D-NOSES – Rosa Arias (Ibercivis)
D-NOSES is a project creating the “International Odour Observatory”, which will be co-created. Mapping for Change is in their consortium. It takes an “extreme citizen science” approach – any literacy level, socio-economic status and gender of participants should be able to take part without barriers. You can follow them on dnoses.eu and @Dnoses_EU on Twitter.

Sparks – Maria Zolotonosa (Ecsite)
The project itself finished in June last year; was a project to bring RRI closer to citizens. Citizen science was understood in its broadest sense – data collection but also citizen input into policy making and research. It was officially public engagement, but citizen participation was crucial. They came up with a travelling exhibition into every member state of Europe; it was called “Beyond the Lab”. The exhibition is ongoing in Spain, Poland and the Netherlands. They took stories of citizen scientists, for example, a woman with Parkinson’s who uses self-tracking to monitor and take control over her disease, or a clean air activist in London who collaborated with parents to put air sensors on prams. These personal stories are very relatable to people, and they show how citizens can participate in science. Sparks introduced the “reversed science cafe”, in which people are asked to come up with questions to put to participants which can be investigated. Experts listen, change tables regularly, and bring back new things they learn to their countries. It takes inspiration from a regular science cafe in which an expert gives a talk and is asked questions – in this case, the roles are reversed and the scientist comes up with questions for the public! The citizens then discuss the questions, and the expert is often very surprised by the answers and gets new ideas for research. Lessons learned in exhibitions: personal stories are very important, exhibitions can be a catalyst for local mobilisation as long as a local partnership is established.

EU-Citizen.Science – Marzia Mazzonetto (ECSA)
A new project and website, a CSA or coordinated and support action. It has only just launched and is coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Berlin. ECSA has a large role. The main focus is to address what had been identified by the EC as a big need: to have a gateway, an entry point, into citizen science in Europe. There was an effort to involve as many European countries as possible. The platform should be a place for discussion to bring people together and ask about each other’s citizen science, or where citizens can find out what is in their area, or policy makers and science journalists to find out more. There are multiple stakeholders and there will be specific community needs.

WeObserve, Ground Truth 2.0 and other projects – Uta Wehn (IHE Delft)
In WeObserve, the project contains four communities of practice – academics, industries, communities of practice (such as DITOs partners!), citizens. Ground Truth 2.0 co-designs citizen observatories, which has a closer link with policy. Policy makers are invited into the room from the start. There are now six observatories, which each has a unique identity and has chosen its theme of research. They are liaising with policy makers. Many aspects are being re-used from other citizen science projects including DITOs; this has been made possible by sharing best practices. There is one more non-EU funded project called CSEOL, or Citizen Science Earth Observation Lab. DITOs has created a community of engaged citizens, Uta Wehn tells us – there is a huge base of people who now know what citizen science is and can participate.

Environmental Social Science Research Group – Balint Balazs, (ESSRG)
DITOs legacy – “rending invisible citizen sciences visible” – there is now a network of citizen science, including science shops. ESSRG is working as a science shop independently from universities, based in Hungary. The concept of invisible citizen science is connected to location and place. Many of us are not coming from the environmental perspective. Much of it has to do with cultural and institutional issues: what is each country’s science communication practice? Some examples of invisibility: Some citizen science projects are global; the academic papers’ titles often don’t reflect the fact that non-scientists took part. Environmental projects are often co-created and have social aspects. Do they lead to a transformative social innovation? Citizen science itself is often regarded as very niche and new, even by environmental aspects, and it is often feared that it would take a very long time for citizens to understand and develop coordinated scientific methods. There is also an apparent divide between east and west, the speaker, Balazs Balint, says – in his experience, the east has fewer established methods and celebration and also fewer academic papers. However, is invisibility an manifestation of something? How can we record the methods that are taking place, and what is the replacement for citizen science in these contexts? Are we seeing projects only funded through the EC? Are we drawing on a number of auxiliary terms? What kind of knowledge is provided, and created? Environmental citizen science can result from a state’s lack of action. Sometimes, there is knowledge that is not created by the state or academia. It is found that citizens would like to download and share data, and curate it. A culture change is taking place in several countries where democracy is a new (or “short, questionable”) experience. Many social sciences apps can be transferred or utilised to create citizen science projects, and create interesting opportunities for professionals, for example the collection and sharing of old private photos, a common digital heritage. Citizen activism is also going on, but never considered citizen science. FixMyStreet is an example of this – it has been running for 7 years in Hungary. There is a learning curve beyond these applications; people are reporting problems but would also like to take part in governance.

Questions:
Q1) Language: regarding invisibility of citizen science – is this about language? eg black people’s contributions to science are often invisible and not put in the curriculum, which doesn’t mean they aren’t creating knowledge, they might simply call it something else? Is it about language, or is it about action, or some combination? (To a Black person, “invisible” has a very specific meaning and counter-narratives and counter-perspectives are very important.)
A1) a) There is colonial thinking! There is much going on that is invisible but is not called citizen science, partly because of the language but partly because of different knowledge. It is probably much to do with language, but not entirely. b) Language is only what we can articulate; what is in our heads is much broader. How can we tap into that knowledge base? Language isn’t the only method we have. (Answer b is from Uta, who has done work in Africa with water supply issues; she will be told by very knowledgeable local people: “You are the fifth person who wants to co-create a project with me on this, and I haven’t got time – I need to spend time in the field or my family will be hungry!”)

Q2) What is the potential for citizen science to open up the anarchy of science beyond the academic facade? What is it like to be a scientist?
A2) a) It is very mixed, and we get mixed up in the terminology. There are things we call citizen science, public engagement, etc – these terms have something in common. But to look from a more traditional point of view of data collection, it does play a role in science communication. It gives people the opportunity to feel like scientists. The people who participate in citizen science projects are often white middle-class men, which means we aren’t reaching a diverse audience (although DITOs reached 51% women, 49% men). b) Sometimes amazing experiences aren’t communicated to the outside world. The Journal of Science Communication is open access; it would be good to use lessons learned in here to reach more communities. c) We use many techniques to utilise communications. There are times when we simply collect data from citizens, but we can also use bottom-up work – and these two disciplines can enrich each other. There is also data journalism.

Q3) Do any of the panelists have a single particular action they would like to implement, or problem to solve, or policy change to make? For example, to insist that academic papers’ titles reflect the citizen participation? (There are papers who credit every single citizen who takes part.) Should not all participants be credited when there is funding?
A3) Co-design is brilliant, but we can be restricted by having to report all methods to funders – for example, needing to say who will be coders in advance, which then means citizens can’t co-design platforms. So one future change would be more flexibility!

Doing It Together Science (DITOs) final event talks (part 1)

This is a reblogging of the reporting from DITOs final event, which was blogged by Alice Sheppard (which I’ve edited, lightly):

Introduction to the day

Camille Pisani, the Director of RBINS praises numerous volunteers and collaborators who have worked together, and the way different activities have been aimed at reaching many different audiences. There have been many localised events, such as waste management or coastal environmental issues. What makes DITOs different in her views is the integrative approach to the multiple meanings of “citizen science”. Citizen science goes back a long way, but for some people it’s still a new thing, and we’re still in the process of reaching out, even with simple things like communication. At the other end of the scale are people who have been volunteering or experimenting in science outside the professional environment for a very long time. When Camille met Muki four or five years ago, she was extremely interested in the idea of the escalator model.

 

 

Muki Haklay is next on “The DITOs journey”. He starts with “the world needs more citizen science” and the DITOs video. The DITOs story started in the middle of 2013 with the launch of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA). As a fledgeling organisation, the question was how to get it going. In 2014, DITOs was set with a process in which UCL asked partners what they’d be interested in doing during the next few years, and design a project around these plans. They not only thought up the escalator, but also the thought of aiming at more bottom-up citizen science. UCL would lead, because ECSA was still building capacity and was not ready to lead a project. The initial bid was lost to Sparks, which was a wonderful project, but in 2015, a second call came out and in May 2016 DITOs began just after the 2016 ECSA conference. DITOs is very diverse, with a museum, NGOs, SMEs, universities, labs – a very diverse team with an original promise to run 500 events and engage 290,000 participants plus 1.3 million online. It was quite an ambitious target! Muki next mentions the “onion diagram”, which put UCL and ECSA at the centre with many activities and areas going on around them. The objectives included “deep public engagement”, a broad range of public activities, to strengthen ECSA, to do cross-European fertilisation and knowledge-sharing by way of a lot of interaction between the partners, and to reach out to excluded groups. Muki has rewritten the escalator model a few times to develop the ideas and have some exact numbers, such as precisely how many people in the UK are active in DIYBio, and how many watch Blue Planet or visit the science museum. Many more people “passively consume” science (such as the above activities) versus taking a more active role, such as recording birds in their garden. In many cases, people run out of time to do science, for example, while trying to support a family; the escalator allows people to move up and down according to their preference and ability. All the knowledge-sharing leads to project partners spending a great deal of time together, including in local citizen science such as visiting lakes or rivers, and all becoming friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linden Farrer from the European Commission DG RTD (the department that is responsible for research and innovation) is next – DG RTD chooses which projects to fund, or not fund through open calls. DITOs was funded out of a part of H2020 which is dedicated to bringing people and science together (Science with and for Society – SWAFS). The objectives are, of course, bringing science and society together, but also fostering more talent for science and pairing scientific excellence with social responsibility. This can involve co-creation of agendas and policies by several stakeholders – which is quite broad, with a wide range of activities, and maybe discussing results or doing science with citizens. DITOs got funding under a topic called “Pan-European public outreach”, with the aim of increasing public awareness of science and RRI. Now, 2/3 of the way through H2020, they are concentrating on increasing the impacts and effectiveness of the programme, focusing on fewer topics but more closely – and one of such topics is exploring and supporting citizen science (others include institutional change, gender equality, etc – there are still quite a few you can find if you google Citizen Science in SWafS!). Linden lets us know that the future of H2020 and SwafS very likely involves working directly with citizens and civil society organisations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next several presentations are results of DITOs by many of its staff, taking five minutes each, moderated by Margaret Gold.

Judy Barrett, UCL, on the escalator model
Extreme Citizen Science group conceived the idea of DITOs in 2014, with the idea that citizen science should be driven by local needs, practices and cultures. UCL has mostly focused on WP6, “coordination, support and management”, which surrounds all the other work packages (such as policy). We’ve also produced a study of business models of citizen science. Our outputs from WP6 is itself a DITOs legacy, because other projects will be able to use it. We carried out 90 events, which we’ll see more of later. We implemented a MOOC (massive open online course) which has now been operating for 2 years, which has been signed up to by about 1000 people, and is also part of MSc programmes at UCL. Our events are aimed at equipping people with tools to answer their own scientific questions. We’ve made our own escalator model as “the consortium journey” – for several of us, it was our first experience of interdisciplinary work, or citizen science, or many other topics. It was therefore vital to create a supportive, communicative environment, with practice-sharing and exchange of ideas being vital. Some staff of partners were scientists with little experience of citizen science. But many individual staff members felt they had personally grown. Individual highlights include a dedication to progress in citizen science, collaboration with experts, and multi-stakeholder engagement.

Gaia Agnello, ECSA, environmental sustainability
The aim was to introduce citizen scientists and policy makers on developing methods for involvement, bolstering networks, promoting knowledge exchange and events all over Europe. ECSA particularly established the European BioBlitz Network, facilitating best practice exchange between anyone who runs BioBlitzes. Three DITOs partners subsequently established their first BioBlitz. MediaLab Prado created “Interactivos” of discussions and workshops on different topics each year, such as sustainable mobility, food systems, waste management etc. Kersnikova organised the Sister’s Lab, promoting transdisciplinary activities and gender equality, empowering women to collaborate through teaching and learning. UCL ran all-age workshops on air quality, including teaching people how to make environmental monitoring devices. European Green Week last year included discussions of environmental citizen science’s impact on policy. Lessons learned include: balance your organisation’s mandate with the values of the poeple involved; care for participants; co-design events as much as possible – talking to people before designing events; make sure the project has been felt by communities as their own because this will increase impacts; and take care of your team and yourself!

 

Imane Baiz, CRI-Paris, UPD and BioDesign
WP1 is Biodesign, which even the project leaders found a mysterious word at the beginning! It may mean art, or integrating buildings into the ecosystem, or synthetic biology (including the tools and methods). It connects people – for example, scientists with artists. It is interdisciplinary. It also connects ideas, too. We had a total of 700 events, which involved a lot of travelling and creating exhibitions, and partners showing their work to each other, going into schools, designing the Science Bus. It can be about empowerment – designing a sustainable future, inspired by nature. There were also different notions from different people – for example of extensive travel, but in fact, it’s like a group of superheroes who are trying to make the world a better place.

Paweł Wyszomirski, Eco21/Meritum, air quality
Polish cities are suffering from serious air pollution, especially in autumn and winter. Eco21 began to work with policy makers. They were creating data, which they decided to use to empower people to do something about the pollution – which involved teaching people how to use numbers to make decisions. This also allows people to talk with others in their neighbourhoods. Membership of ECSA allowed Eco21 to be invited to an air quality workshop, to learn how to empower and engage people in citizen science and in being able to do something about poor air quality. Pawel hopes that many people will come and ask him about European Clean Air Day.

Carole Paleco, RBINS, the escalator model at the museum
A way that RBINS have tried to apply the escalator model is to evaluate their activities and events, and also trying to involve the citizens at an early stage. At a citizen science cafe, for example, the monitoring and evaluation of feedback from participants has led to being able to give the facilitator feedback each time. They have a small touring exhibition that goes to schools in the Brussels region. They’ve organised biodiversity workshops with volunteers. They asked participants what they would put on a “Z-Card” which would go out to schools to raise awareness of biodiversity. She gave a report on a Phasma Meeting at RBINS, and organised their first BioBlitz last year. It was very focused with five scientists. The XperiBird has given out nestboxes to schools so that the children can observe birds nesting and bringing up chicks.

Simon Gmajner, Kersnikova, Bridging the Gap
Kersnikova aims to bridge the gaps between scientists and artists, also with participants and events. There was no phrase for “citizen science” in Slovenian, so it was translated best as “participatory science”. They then decided to organise exhibitions which would spur discussions. They did a BioArt exhibition which included science cafes which deepened discussion and complimented the artists’ and scientists’ modes of engagement. They managed to host the author of a book on biotechnology. A problem they ran into was people asking “What is art and what is science here?” which they found they could not always answer! They wanted to build an ecosystem that would support itself, which involved training people in interdisciplinary matters. They have a biotechnology lab and also ran workshops on biorobotics and soil tasting! They also trained mentors, so that citizens who had been coming for a long time could teach newer people.

https://twitter.com/mhaklay/status/1113363070355681280

Claudia Gobel, ECSA, Policy Engagement
DITOs has many public engagement activities, but also wants to talk to decision makers, which ECSA has focused on – at European, national and local levels. They’ve held 16 discovery trips, 17 stakeholder round tables, a pan-European policy forum and many more additional workshops and events. These took place in various countries. Policy briefs have come out of this, with a focus on open science and on responsible research and innovation. There is a diversity of voices in citizen science. It is very important to understand how citizen science is conceptualised and done – which is where the escalator was very important. There are different communities of practitioners. Citizen science needs cultural change and a plurality of voices, transparency, diversity, inclusiveness and these must be very important in our organisations. They also want to build more networks of stakeholders. Claudia also highlighted the citizen science book – if you’re here, please help yourself to a copy, or download it here.

Ted Fjallman, Tekiu UK, WP4 Policy Engagement
Across the project, we’ve managed to achieve 50% more events than we originally planned – DITOs has been very successful in the policy area, too. Tekiu is a for-profit organisation, though is not seeking to make a profit from DITOs. Ted observes that people are learning differently. He asked how many of us go to the cinema (nearly everyone); how many would be willing to pay what you’d pay for the cinema to attend a policy event? It was fewer people. Tekiu joined DITOs to understand how society is changing as a whole (which they cannot ask a single company). Discovery Trips are Tekiu’s brand; they take 10 to 25 people on a trip from one country to another to meet with their counterparts abroad so both parties can learn what the others do. Sometimes, participants may go on for example to join their city council. They plan to keep linking scientists with policymakers. They feel the future lies in active monitoring – we all have a phone, which has technology we wouldn’t have been able to imagine 30 years ago. It is, therefore, time to update the way we think.

Participants’ panel:
Cindy Regalado and Pawel Miedzinski from eutema moderating – Adam, Bernard, Roland, Mark, Pen-Yuan

Adam: Was part of Science has no Borders at UCL. Had a stall with an artist friend who collaborated on art and science of complexity. Attended film nights which included discussions of uneasy topics such as the history of eugenics. Attended Do It Together bio workshops, which taught him how to do simple biology experiments and procedures, use cutout microscopes, and learning about work at an aquarium and how to sample from the wild.
Bernard: Also worked with Rachel at the aquarium (as above), organised some workshops in Ireland with aerial kite mapping to which some environmentalist groups were invited; they hope to map their waterways in the future. They have also worked with young people from youth work in Ireland – they took some cameras which would otherwise have ended up in a landfill, and allowed young people to take the cameras apart to see what was inside them and convert them into near-infrared.
Roland – OpenWetLab evenings at Waag. His background is biology but he’s learning a lot of DIYbio and technology this way. Went to Kersnikova for a Bio-Art project and conference – all these were funded by DITOs; many participants in a Bio-Art movement came from around the world.
Mark – Was a Science Bus captain. Had already done a lot of outreach and engagement activities around Ireland. Science Bus involved travelling in a camper van around Europe collaborating with museums etc to work with the local public and get them engaged in workshops. The bus captains travelled together but didn’t always know each other beforehand! They taught the public how to carry out small DIY projects and gave them tools to investigate the world around them, also encouraging them to investigate and critique the world around them in this way. His favourite part was getting people interested who had never carried out scientific activities this way before. They were interested in the public’s life hacks and traditional remedies – how did people get information about what to do about (for example) what to do about bruises or mosquito bites when they didn’t engage much with science? A commonly stated solution was “urinate on it”!
Pen: worked with Cindy on delivering electronics workshops for the public, learning about open hardware and taking control over it and understand it. Has also worked with Cindy on DIY environmental sensing. He has also been investigating the nature of knowledge and creativity, such as creative commons licensing – how to creatively subvert copyright laws to share knowledge. He has, therefore, run many workshops in different places such as Italy, Scotland etc, and worked with hackerspaces. He has found that many people don’t know how to solder, so has used conductive thread.

Q: Has DITOs changed the way you do your work or practice?
Adam: Yes, now collaborates and gives talks, and works with many different people – DITOs was a big confidence-booster.
Bernard: Current role means diverting mattresses from landfill; quantifies work, work done manually – makes that work visible. Does mapping, community gardens, working with young people and getting them to understand the importance of data.
Roland: Has trained biohackers who then go on to train each other; has enjoyed watching skills spread. DITOs has personally influenced him to give workshops, feeling there is a mix between arts and science.
Mark: The Waag had the idea of the science bus; when he met them he felt they were wonderful but had a different way of thinking from how he would have carried out his work, so it taught him a new way of seeing things, which he felt was progressive. He applied these ideas to the science bus and his own work in Ireland. He returned to Ireland trying to find out how to engage the largest number of people possible – and has used the opening of Ireland’s new science centre to engage more people in citizen science and to see what they can do themselves.
Pen: Worked with a citizen scientist who built his own tools and developed his own methods for ecology – and discovered a population of deer near his village. This caught the attention of the local authorities, who built a protected area for the deer. Citizens do not just passively collect data. Science can make all of us become more engaged citizens.

EU-Citizen.Science project kick-off meeting

DSCN3286The EU-Citizen.Science is a new project that is part of a family of citizen science projects that are funded through the Science with and for Society (SwafS) stream of the Horizon 2020 programme. The project started in January and will run for 3 years. It is coordinated by the Natural History Museum of Berlin (the Museum für Naturkunde – MfN) and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA).

The meeting was opened by Johannes Vogel, the director of MfN and the chair of ECSA who set a target for the project, with the German presidency of the European Union in 2020, and the need to prepare activities that will emphasise the role of citizen science in cities.

DSC_1458

Men stand in front of a lectern with slides
The range of SwafS projects

Next, Linden Farrer from DG RTD provided the context for the project. The SwafS is about 500m Eur part of H2020, that tries to build effective co-operation, foster the recruitment of new talent for science and pair scientific excellence with a connection to societal needs. These goals have been turned into eight lines of activities. Citizen Science is falling under public engagement. The interim evaluation of SwafS in 2017 found it highly relevant, that there is satisfactory efficiency with a low success rate in calls – it’s the home for civil society organisations. SwafS is highly coherent with internal and international policies, and very high added value – it is not competing with local funding, and because of the level of funding, there is limited effectiveness. As a response to the evaluation, the focused the calls on sustainable institutional changes, focus on “doing R&I” through citizen science and user-led innovation, encourage collaboration among projects, and identify SMART impacts that can be measured. They align with overall goals: RR (MoRRI) SDGs, COP21 etc. The strategic orientation includes building the knowledge base, exploring and support citizen science, and other activities. There are future calls within the area of citizen science and there are 41 projects of which 31 are still active. There are many other H2020 projects that have an element of citizen science. Finally, RRI is an important element that is cross-cutting in H2020 and it is aimed to involve citizens, civil society organisations (CSO) and other non-traditional actors in EU research programmes. There is an aim to change the governance of research. The MoRRI D3.2 report is showing the interaction between different areas of the agenda. There are different projects that are taking an RRI approach is different between projects across the H2020 goals. There is almost no project in the ERC portfolio that is falling under the RRI framework. There are also projects that are going beyond the EU – with international partners that are no in the EU – from Japan to Chile.

Beyond H2020 and into Horizon Europe, the Lamy report pointed the need to mobilise and involve citizens. In Horizon Europe, there is more mission-based science – there is a bigger budget – 400 mil Eur to enhance citizen science and enhancing the European R&I system. The is an article on open science in general, and different R&I missions – a portfolio of actions that require a multi-stakeholder and transdisciplinary approach to achieve goals within a given time frame. The Open Science Policy Platform included in its recommendation citizen science (recommendation 8 in a document from 29/05/2018). OSPP build the visibility of citizen science – opening a roadmap, vision and skills to increase the recognition of it.

DSCN3283Colombe Warin, the Project Officer in charge of the project point that the consortia have a strong obligation for dissemination – need to freely share research strategies, methodologies, raw data, and methodology – to show commitment to citizen science and to the principles of RRI. It is also important to notice the difference between communication and dissemination as a concrete activity of the project,  although these are mixed in citizen science projects.

DSC_1462Katrin Vohland, the project PI pointed to the complexity of citizen science, the complexity of interpreting citizen science, and variety of ideas about what it is, how to call the people who participate, and which disciplines which bring with them different ways of understanding it, the methodologies… There are many approaches to data quality and accessibility. The project itself is the creation of a central hub for cross European Knowledge Sharing, including best practices, and there are lots of material that is emerging and need to be collected. We need a co-design of tools and guidelines so they are relevant to different audiences. The project includes 6 main work packages – first platform, community and network building; WP3 – the content of the platform which includes context, quality assurance and curation to consolidate the citizen science knowledge base; WP5 is about empowering diverse stakeholders to become citizen scientists, start citizen science project or adopt the professionally through training; WP4 that is about exploring new pathways of participatory governance with the public and policymakers, and finally WP6 that about advancing citizen science into mainstream of public engagement, science communication and education by dissemination and exploitation.

Approach to the platform in WP2 with a focus on the platform, community and network building – technology decisions are still open in order to support different audiences: participants, practitioners, policy makers, and science journalists. The groups made the first steps of recognising what are the training needs, how they are linked to specific tools and formats, and what user-centred design principles should guide the implementation.

WP3 is focusing on identifying quality criteria that will be used to judge which tools and resources will be curated on the platform. It is led by IIASA. This was done by identifying specific tools and then considering what quality criteria apply to them – for example, ECSA’s 10 principles of citizen science. About 20 “tools” were recognised in a 20 minutes exercise.

WP4 is about awareness and engagement and is led by Earthwatch – it will share a conceptual model for awareness, empowerment, and engagement and then develop tools and strategies for citizen engagement. It will also provide a coordinated approach to citizen science with other SwafS initiatives. There is also an element of reaching out to policymakers.

WP5, which UCL is leading on, is focusing on training. First, a core objective is to assess the training needs of those inexperienced in citizen science and those that are involved in it. Based on that, aggregate, curate, and create a suite of innovative training resources to address these needs and enhance European knowledge sharing in this area. There will be a specific effort to increase linkages with SDGs. Finally, the WP5 will try to identify and develop a delivery model that reaches citizen scientists and potential practitioners/citizen science project leaders in all countries of Europe. This work package starts only in the summer of 2019 with the gap and needs analysis. There are multiple target groups: Public (newcomers and citizen scientists), Practitioners (coordinators), Academia (career scientists, primary and secondary school teachers), Policymakers (and civil servants), Press (journalists and media experts), and SMEs and industry (and new entrepreneurs). So identifying needs and considering what form of training suit them will be quite a task…

WP1 is led by MfN and deals with management is also tasked with coordination with other projects that are funded from the same call – the SwafS 15 which is about exploring and supporting citizen science. There is a whole group of projects in the call that can be linked to the coordination effort of EU-Citizen.Science. For example, MICS, a project that is coordinated by Earthwatch is focusing on measuring the impact of environmental citizen science and in particular on river restoration, and they aim to provide tools that support the process of understanding and measuring impacts. In WeObserve, there is a CoP on Impact. The Super-MoRRI provide another set of impact evaluation. Integrating these into EU-Citizen.Science so information can be shared widely is important. The ACTION project will include cascading grants for participatory science toolkit about pollution.

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The communication approach to address the vision and objectives of the project

WP6 which is focusing on dissemination and communication is led by ECSITE and Daphnie Daras and Suzanna Fillipecki presented it – the European Network of Science Centres and Museums. The effort of Ecsite effort will include helping with communication with science journalists and science centres across Europe. The project will inherit the social media channels of DITOs. The need to reach out to the multiple target groups with different messages to reach out to them. Some early analysis involved identifying specific messages – for example, for researchers who are not involved in citizen science, to find a way to encourage them to understand and consider it.

WP7 is about evaluation and impact assessment. It is led by the centre for social innovation in Vienna (ZSI), with Barbara Kieslinger and Teresa Schafer. ZSI is a not-for-profit that works on different social innovation and got into citizen science through an interest in maker spaces and DIY science, and provided input into the Socientize project in 2014 and many activities since. The WP is assessing the usefulness and user acceptance of the project’s activities. Although we have described objectives, we need to define the details of what will be the measurements of success and knowing that we’ve reached the objectives.

 

 

Vespucci / COST action training school on digital transformation, citizen science, and social innovation

As part of the COST action that is dedicated to citizen science across Europe, I have participated in a training school about digital transformation, citizen science, and social innovation.  The training school set out to be a five-day event for doctoral students, researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants who are interested in exploring and learning about:

  • how citizen science can be understood and/or used as a strategic or intentional approach to social innovation;
  • the intertwinement of social innovation with socio-technical developments, including the impacts of digital transformation;
  • the relationship between policy framing, participatory research, and social innovation.

With the guidance of six trainers: Myself, Mara Balestrini, Ideas For Change, Barcelona; Stefan Daume, Scitingly Project, Stockholm; Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy;  and Sven Schade and Marisa Ponti, the EU Joint Research Centre who supported the whole training school in addition to the COST action.

The students came from across Europe – from places such as Turkey, Sicily, Hungary, Austria and Scotland, with the usual internationalisation of the academic world – such as Lithuanian working in Italy or Spanish working in Scotland. Although some of the students were already familiar with the world of citizen science, other were new to it. We’ve started the week with a mapping exercise to help us set mixed groups with different skills across the spectrum of social innovation and citizen science.

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During the week, four groups of students (some of them experienced researchers at an advanced stage of their career!) started to develop research activities around the intersection between the three core topics. Some noticeable outcomes are the realisation that within a highly multidisciplinary area, there are challenges in case study selection and analysis; the need to define concepts such as impact, uptake, value, success, failure and so on… There was also the constant issue of finding bout failures so other people can learn from them.

After about a day and a half of lectures, discussions, and organisation, the participants started to look into four interesting areas. The first group started to ask questions about the social impacts of projects and in particular the difference between co-created projects which tend to be short term, and long-term projects, which tend to be top-down and highly structured. They started working on analysing 30 case studies to understand the trade-offs. The second group questioned the differences in “triggering events” for citizen science and especially “stress” vs “shock”. The stress events are ongoing issues such as noise or air quality, while shock are events such as disaster response. The third group started looking at the meaning of “value” in citizen science and ended with the clash between the neoliberal interpretation of citizen science vs the more communitarian and humanistic interpretation of its role in society. They have done their data collection by interviewing the trainers – a good way of utilising the knowledge in the room. Finally, the fourth group explored project reports on the Horizon 2020 portal as a way to understand the social value that emerges from EU funded projects that are relevant to the areas of social innovation and citizen science – they have identified over 90 projects that are worth exploring further.

The value of a training school is in the immersion that participants and trainers have for the five days and the fact that this school was running in the winter meant that there was an extra incentive to stay inside and focus. This adds to other good experiences at the same location through the Vespucci Initiative. At the end of it all, it is about building networks of researchers which will hopefully continue to develop.

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Citizen Science: Innovation in open science, society and policy – a new open access book!

citizen_science Today marks the publication of the book “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy“. The book emerged from the first conference of the European Citizen Science Association in Berlin, in 2016. While the summary of the conference is available in a journal article in Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, the book is an independent collection that goes beyond this specific event and providing a set of 31 chapters that cover different issues in the interface between citizen science, open science, social innovation, and policy.

Shortly after the conference, Aletta Bonn and Susanne Hecker, who coordinated it, suggested the development of a book that will capture the breadth of the field of citizen science that the conference exposed. Within a month, the editorial team which include Susanne Hecker, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel, Aletta Bonn, and myself started to work on the concept of the book and the appropriate publisher. We were committed to publishing the book as open access so it can be read by anyone who wishes it without limitations, and also so the chapters from it can be used widely. By publishing with UCL Press, which agreed to publish the book without charges, we had additional resources that we have used to work with Madeleine Hatfield of Yellowback to ensure that the book chapters are well edited and readable,and with Olaf Herling, a Berlin graphic designer, who helped us in developing and realising the graphic design of the book.

The chapters made quite a journey – they were submitted in late 2016, and were peer-reviewed and revised by mid-2017. As always with such an effort, there is a complex process of engaging over 120 authors, the review process, and then the need to get a revised version of the chapters. This required the editorial team to coordinate the communication with the authors and encourage them to submit the chapters (with the unavoidable extensions!). Once the chapters were in their revised form, they continued to be distilled – first with comments from the editorial guidance by Madeleine, but also with suggestions from Mark Chandler from Earthwatch, who provided us with an additional review of the book as a whole.

Susanne & Aletta in ECSA 2016

Susanne Hecker, the lead editor, put in a lot of time into communicating with the authors, the publishers, and the professional editors. Even as late as two months ago, we had the need to check the final proofs and organise the index. All that is now done and the book is out.

The book contains 31 chapters that cover many aspects of citizen science – from the integration of activities to schools and universities to case studies in different parts of the world.

Here is what we set out to achieve: “This book brings together experts from science, society and practice to highlight and debate the importance of citizen science from a scientific, social and political perspective and demonstrate the innovation potential. World-class experts will provide a review of our current state of knowledge and practical experience of citizen science and the delivery of will be reviewed and possible solutions to future management and conservation will be given. The book critically assesses the scientific and societal impact to embed citizen science in research as well as society.

The aim of this volume is to identify opportunities and challenges for scientific innovation. This includes discussions about the impact of citizen science at the science-policy interface, the innovative potential of citizen science for scientific research, as well as possible limitations. The emphasis will be to identify solutions to fostering a vibrant science community into a changing future, with actors from academia and society. Five main sections are envisaged with an editorial introduction and a thorough final synthesis to frame the book.

Innovation in Science: What are the governance and policy frameworks that will facilitate embedding citizen science in agenda setting, design and data collection of research projects and communication? What are innovation opportunities and challenges and where support is needed? How to ensure data quality and IP rights?

Innovation at the Science-Policy interface: What are the opportunities for citizen science to provide an input to better decision making? How is participation ensured across society and how does it lead to enhanced problem-solving?

Innovation in Society: How can citizen science lead to empowerment and enhanced scientific literacy and increase science capital? What is the social transformation potential impact of citizen science?

Innovation in Technology and Environmental Monitoring: What policy and technical issues citizen science and mobile sensor technology bring? How can it contribute to advances in environmental monitoring within existing and emerging regulations? What policy and practical framework can facilitate or harm this?

Innovation in Science Communication and Education: How have new media transformed science and what are the implication to scientists, public and science funders? How can new techniques open new opportunities and to whom? ”

The final book does not follow these exact sections, but the topics and questions are the same.

The book is free and you can now download it from UCL Press website – let us know what you think of it! 

 

Call for Participation in Vespucci Training School on Digital Transformations in Citizen Science and Social Innovation – January 2019

Apply until 31 October at https://www.cs-eu.net/events/internal/vespucci-training-school-digital-transformations-citizen-science-and-social 

The Role of Digital Technologies in Engaging Citizens (not only Citizen Scientists) in Social Innovation

Mini BioBlitz at Teppes de Verbois Nature ReserveWith the widespread availability of cheap, ubiquitous and powerful tools like the internet, the world-wide-web, social media and smartphone apps, new ways of carrying out both citizen science and social innovation have become possible. Often this means that barriers for citizens to engage in both science and social innovation have been lowered in terms of communication, outreach and scaling and thresholds for participation have also been lowered. There is an enormous potential for these technologies to strengthen the role of intermediary civil organizations and communities, and thereby to re-balance the playing field in favour of a broader range of actors – even those who do not use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). ICTs can also help citizen engagement in policy framing by facilitating their involvement throughout the policy cycle, from agenda setting to service design and provision up to policy impact evaluation, creating new roles for stakeholders and enabling new power relations. However, digital technology should also be put in context, as it is often not leading edge but existing off-the-shelf technologies that are used in social innovation. Thus, technology must always be seen in its close intertwinement with the actual world of people, places, and digital skills people may or may not have.

Aim and Goals of the Training School

This training school is a five-day event for doctoral students, researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants who are interested in exploring and learning about:

  1. how citizen science can be understood and/or used as a strategic or intentional approach to social innovation;
  2. the intertwining of social innovation with socio-technical developments, including the impacts of digital transformation;
  3. the relationship between policy framing, participatory research, and social innovation.

All that, with the principles of the Vespucci Initiative – slow learning, long discussion, and collaborative learning where everyone is respected and expected to contribute and learn.

expected outcome(s) of the Training School:

Participants will learn about new forms of collaborative socio-technical development for social innovation, analyze case studies, and apply what they have learned by building a real collaborative socio-technical development for involving citizens and other stakeholders. As a result, participants will learn new skills and, more importantly, they will know new people, peers to collaborate with and/or other professionals who can help their projects.
The program is built upon three main tracks. The first three days will be devoted to introducing participants to these tracks (one track per day). The last two days will be devoted to group work.

  1. Overview of citizen science in research and innovation.
  2. Citizen science, social innovation, and policy-framing.
  3. Digital technologies in citizen science and social innovation: opportunities and risks.

Organization Committee:
Sven Schade, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Marisa Ponti, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy (local organiser)

Lecturers/Facilitators:

  • Muki Haklay, University College London, UK
  • Mara Balestrini, CEO Ideas For Change, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • Stefan Daume, Founder and Chief Data Wrangler at the Scitingly Project, Stockholm Sweden
  • Sven Schade, JRC
  • Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy
  • Marisa Ponti, JRC

A training school co-funded by JRC (www.vespucci.org) and COST Action 15212 Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe

Date: January 21-25, 2019
Venue: Fattoria di Maiano, Via Benedetto da Maiano, 11, 50014 Fiesole FI, Italy
Nearest airports: Florence and Pisa; Nearest railway station: Florence.
Language of the training school: English
Maximum Number of Participants: 20

Apply until 31 October at https://www.cs-eu.net/events/internal/vespucci-training-school-digital-transformations-citizen-science-and-social – You don’t need to be part of the Cost Action on citizen science to apply! 

More information is available here.