Lessons learned from Volunteers Interactions with Geographic Citizen Science – Afternoon session

The context of the workshop and the notes from the first part of the workshop is available here. The theme of the second part of the day was Interacting with geographical citizen science: lessons learned from urban environments

Volunteer interactions with flood crowdsourcing platforms – Avi Baruch talk is based on a completed PhD on the aspects of volunteers in flood monitoring and response. There are different types – incident reporting floodline, media outreach, online volunteering, and collaborative mapping. He looked at Tomnod as a system that is currently used to engage volunteers in tagging satellite images. Looked at forums and interviews with the most active participants. Most volunteers where over 50 and there is a good balance by gender. 23% stated that they had a long-term health problem – finding it addictive and spending 8-10 hours a day. Engaging volunteers is an issue: there was not enough feedback on how the information was used and how they are performing, which Tomnod team haven’t done. at least 10% of comments were concerned with the quality of their contributions. Without feedback, it is hard to judge. Tomnod allow people to explore the map and they can share location, but then people concentrate in one area. Restricting people to an area didn’t work well. Core motivations were based on altruistic reasons, and retirement, disability and health were reasons for engagement. The second part of the PhD project includes the development of a citizen science platform to report (floodcrowd.co.uk) and doing the development through an iterative process. The form allows people to report flooding incidents. All the information that is provided is location, and type of flooding, and then people can report further details. In communities, that experience flooding preferred a hard copy. All sort of information was submitted, mostly about surface mapping – many people who are potential participants didn’t want to engage with the app. Need further co-production with the people who contribute the data.

Volunteers Interaction in Technology Driven Citizen Science contexts: Lessons learned from senseBox and openSenseMap – Mario Pesch & Thomas Bartoschek SenseBox have been developed over the past 4 years. It came out from teaching computer science in school – focus on environmental sensing which the students wanted to see on the web. Sensing temp, humidity, pressure, light, UV-light. People wanted to participate in the project from outside school. in 2014, they had 50 sesneBoxes – most connected only for few weeks (8m records). After a while, people find it complicated and they wanted to do something on their own. They created a DIY sensing box for home and for school. The component allows people to create things without soldering. They set out reference stations next to official monitoring station – people asked about it. You always need to consider the limitation of the system. SensorBox home 2.0 was looking more at air quality and more options to send the data – measuring in places without WiFi so they added GSM and now they have 1500 sensing stations and people also want to work with the data and you can do basic interpolation. The platform is device independent and people use it for other systems. Also supporting mobile stations, They keep the project open – it can be adjusted to people own needs.

Lessons learned from volunteers’ use and feedback of the Cyclist GEO-C App – Diego Pajarito, Suzanne Maas, Maria Attard and Michael Gould the experience of the cycling app is part of the PhD network GEO-C – open city toolkit. A lot of application target sports or data collected but not linked to the experience on the road. The location Cyclist GEO-C app is for Android and can be competition or cooperation based, and collect GPS tracks and up to 3 tags. Tried in Castello, Munster and Valletta and Malta. There are different levels of cycling used. 20 participants – that commute regularly and using an Android phone. Different participation methods – as a group to get common views. They captured 793 trips, the response was generally positive. People seeing a potential for personal use but also to lobby and promote cycling. Can be a motivational tool for beginners. They also identify the issue of remembering to use the app when the need to use it, improve control over recording and improving the tags. Ideas about mapping interface and using wearable devices, social interaction and gamification were suggested.

Invisible Citizen Science: the case of Járókelő in Hungary – Bálint Balázs & Le Marietta thinking of the citizen science in Eastern Europe, which thinking about modes of public participation in scientific discourse and policy-making, there are multiple silences: there are many projects that offer it, and in the level of initiative – the term haven’t exist and used. The interview from an NGO suggested lack of familiarity. In eastern countries in Europe, citizen science is only recently emerging, not many initiatives, and little-published articles and only a few members of ECSA, and how it is connected. Methods are limited. Need to reconceptualise. There is invisible citizen science – the specific knowledge that is produced in the projects that they are looking at it are uncommon to scientists. An example for this is jarokelo – for addressing local issues – looking at the example for “fix my street” (or “letter to the mayor” in the Czech Republic). Civic technology to report street fixing and there are 20 volunteers who can transfer it to the authority – there are 50-100 reports per day and the reporting back from the authority can take 30 days. Most authorities report back, they also received reports on homeless people and had to agree on what to do with this types of report. The issue of participants is about trust in the state and also think of cooperative research ideas – analysing users’ statistics, thinking of involvement pathways and better communication.

Citizens as Shoppers: Lessons learned from the EnvBodySens application – Eiman Kanjo  looking into mobile sensing – the challenge for retail in the centre of cities and there is also all sort of noise and air pollution that people are concerned about. Done work around a popular shopping area in Nottingham city centre – what kind of sensors – environment, physiology, motion, timestamps, location, continuous self-reporting and the zoning (understanding which shops they are in, or the area that they are visiting). Issues of collecting data involve selecting types of sensors (e.g. the characteristics of the sensors). There was issue of demography, shopping behaviour (men/women), challenges with how many volunteers you get and how to prepare volunteers – but for shopping, we need them to be relaxed and enjoy the shopping and how you start the experiment. There is also the aspects of the journey (real-life shopping experience and temporal aspect of it) which also raise ethical concerns. They needed to consider if the phone is on all the time or should it use voice and audio information. Self-reporting and self-assessment is something that needs consideration. They ended with 50 participants, wristband devices and mobile phone and a 45 shopping journey – they looked at the impact of noise and they also consider how they can visualise all this information.

Lessons learned from the recent landlside mitigation efforts: citizen science as a new approach – Sultan Kocaman & Candan Gokceoglu volunteer contribution can provide important information – increase world population and climate change (extreme weather) is a major natural hazard. Wanted to explore how citizen science is relevant to address uncertainties because there is a lack of reliable temporal data. Risk assessment s base on knowledge of past events – then assessing susceptibility, hazard assessment and then you can understand the risk assessment and manage it. Landslide susceptibility requires a lot of information and data. The risk assessment needs all this information as otherwise there will be too much uncertainty. The majority of landslides are in mountainous areas and we can’t have sensors, but information is coming from observers evidence, and volunteers can provide the time and location in a better way. Shallow landslides disappear after a short period. Need volunteers at the right time and the right place – distributed participation. The scale of movement can also be measured with volunteers. Currently working on the project and consider what can be done – what the frequency and quality of spatial and temporal data and in any case rely heavily on local knowledge but need to be improved.

Citizens as volunteer cartoghraphers: A pedestrian map case study – Manousos Kamilakis exploring the field of cartography for pedestrian – based on ideas from VGI so people can share information. Most of the online maps are focusing on motorised transport, and less about the aesthetic pleasantness of the journey, the condition of the pavement etc. The two journeys are suggested as equivalent and only one of them is offering a better journey. Created an app for pedestrian reporting and recording the journey, then evaluate and review the journey and also editing a path. They carried out an experiment with people who never edited a map and had various motivations – the leaderboard wasn’t of interest, although half were motivated by gamification and were willing to cheat to score points. Creating motivation is difficult – need to design gamification carefully and external incentives encourage unacceptable data uploading – consider peer review. People do not volunteer to all tasks in an equal way.

Interacting with Community Maps – Mapping for Change Louise Francis and Rosa Arias cover the development of international odour observatory.  Building on Principle 10 of Rio and the right of access environmental information – different authorities produced maps, such a noise map.When talking with communities, people are pointing that they have a different experience and reflect their own understanding of their local conditions using citizen science. Citizen collect information and Mapping for Change visualise it on behalf of the community. Community evolved over the years. it is a flexible system that allows people to decide on the grouping of information – the themes are being groups in different ways. There is also a need to make conversation – interact with contributions that other people added. The data is to drive change – for example leading to a change in buses through campaign and publicity to change things around them. Lessons learned: communities, where adding data – demonstrating that community members wanted to share a lot of data and they wanted information on their balcony and putting a point on top of a point, wasn’t possible in the past and require changed. The map is allowing clustering that shows 115 points in a small area. Some communities wanted to have their own classification – so they took the data and created their own visualisation. We learned that and want to be part of the D-Noses: odour pollution. The top-down approaches to address issues of odour and there is fairly little addressing of issues. OdourCollect focuses on bottom-up approach – using the nose to notice odour problems. The OdoucrCollect allow data capture.

A Case Study on the Impact of Design Choices on Data Quality in Geographic Citizen Science – Jeffrey Parsons, NL Nature design choices – ecologist and looking at data management and data quality. Looking at a specific design choice. Looking at two archetypes of systems – on one end well defined and stable use of data (close) precise focus on data collection and data collection standards – citizen scientists with requisite domain knowledge and motivated to do the work well. The other end ill-defined, open use, which provides opportunities for data collection in an opportunistic way, ambiguous data collection standard and unclear domain knowledge. eBird is an example of a project that is towards the closed version. The research setting in traditional science lead to design principles for closed citizen science and these don’t work in open and that can lead to a problem in the application. Information quality is a major challenge in User Generated Content (UGC) – there is all sort of comments about it. Fitness for use is a major one – in close: training, data collection protocol, clean data – but this is a problem in an open environment and it can inhibit contributors from communicating unique knowledge. They suggest crowd IQ – from the contributors’ perspective (Lukyanenjo et al 2014). The question is how do we design in such a way that matches the contributors’ mental models of the information and align with contributors’ capabilities. Design principles focus on conceptual modelling – describing in a way that you use a class-based approach of setting the categories and the model drive the design. Design choice of conceptual model of the producer and not necessarily of the contributors. The alternative is to do instance-based modelling which is based on an ontological view of a world made of things and cognitive approach. The information quality impacts – if you think about data completeness as a way to describe the engagement of volunteers to add information. They checked a website that was focused on species only and another one that focuses on the attributes. The hypotheses are that they’ll get more observation and novel species. NLNature.com is about observations of wildlife. They allow people to type species name or the Latin name, the other option is typing whatever you want. They collected data over 6 months, they have 4 times more observations in the instance based condition, and also observe that class-based condition frustrated the contributors and left compared to the class-based case. They got many more species in the instance based when it is open to people to define insects, fish. They even discover a new type of wasp. The bottom line, modelling choices affect dataset completeness – class based lead to fewer observations and especially of species that are not in the schema.

 

From paper prototyping to citizen participation: Co-designing geolocated cultural heritage applications that trigger personal reflection – Kate Jones – looking at cultural heritage. The aim is to create a serendipitous outdoor exhibition to reflect on historical topics and encourage thoughtful play on historical issues. The topic that they focused on was that of migration – 45% of the population is made of migrants in Luxembourg and that influence way to thinking of a location for historical and contemporary memories and experiences. Two places – Luxembourg city and Valletta and they are both touched by migration and are UNESCO sites. They have Mobile app, moderator app, and point of interest management system and they check the information and want to use CrowdFlower to moderate. The application is to allow people to tag history places and be able to record journeys and stories about spaces and memory. Complexity is being hidden behind the levels. The app informs the user that they are being tracked. It was designed in an iterative process – user scenario, requirements, wood game to try how people use the application action – then develop and evaluate. A board game prototyping allowed the development of scenarios. Postcards symbolic of the user interface. The content needs to be valid, and interesting – want to reflect when people are out and about it the city. They included game designer and the developer and they can see the perspective of the player. People used stickers on the board card to indicate what they liked and disliked – people wanted a stronger connection between migration and experience. They used a digital humanities methods and figured out that it can be too complex so the levels can help in unlocking it. Questions had to be changed to address the emotional response of participants, and the multi-city connection was complex and need to develop carefully. A board game for the design was fun and collaborative but also helped in the development of the game. Going t the field, the launched the application in September 2017. out of 500 students, 40 app download, and only two trajectories. They created a new iteration. People don’t like reading the lengthy text – so they put it text to voice and that brought different issues with the interface. They see different types of people in the user population. Exploration have led to a change in perspective in the final application and grounded in participant experience. How do we give people the motivation to give it a go?

Geographical expertise and citizen science: planning and -design implications – Colin Robertson & Robert Feick considering different levels of geographical expertise – what does it mean to be a geographical expert – what are the expert/non-expert into a spectrum. We can look at some ideas of expertise: Collins 2013 pointed to the 3 dimensions of expertise – contributory, interactional and esotericity – exposure to tacit knowledge in a domain, recognised accomplishments or is it expertise that is common or uncommon we can look at it in a continuum – locale familiarity: place-based expertise related – might be fuzzy. Other geographical knowledge is about place-types – say urban environments or glacial environment. We can think about expertise in the cube – for a soil scientist it is in position A, long-term residents of the area might be a huge locale expertise B and so on. We can think of different projects – from Stresscapes – tweets as a place-based emotional expression but realise that this need validation with participants to check if the tweet related to the surroundings. The engagement was trying to be generic and ignored place and context. Everything was done through surveys on Twitter. RinkWatch looked at outdoor rink skateability – over 2000 rink people are passionate about it. The – a level of skateability level. the level of expertise is high in local knowledge and in thematic specificity. The Wildlife Health Tracker – where dead animals are – knowledge from hunters to capture information about what they have seen. Information that was reported is the type of animal – moderate thematic and local knowledge and low domain knowledge. The participants weren’t involved and much interested. The GrassLander is looking at private land – birds and habitats. Looking at farming community reporting. The cases here are where they’ve seen two types of birds (bobolink or eastern meadowlark) and – high thematic specificity, and moderate to high local knowledge and moderate domain knowledge (two species identification). Farmers were involved and there was a need to restrict access between participants. No project required high domain knowledge, the successful cases include place type or locale familiarity knowledge – though it’s a small sample. Many questions: metrics, credibility and trust models are all interesting.gfg

Following the day, group discussions explored the issues with people, technology, and future directions. Here are the future directions that were supposed in the group that I chaired with the help of Dan Artus (a future report from the workshop will be available)

 

 

Advertisements

From environmental management to organisational strategy development: Using Drivers-Pressure-State-Impact-Response with ECSA

This week, together with Margaret Gold, I facilitated a strategy meeting of the European Citizen Science Association.31520287784_20489a734e At the moment, because a recent lecture in the Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing course that was dedicated to environmental citizen science, the “Driving forces-Pressures-State-Impacts -Responses” (DPSIR) is in the front of my mind. In addition, next week I’ll participate in a workshop about Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) where I would discuss citizen science in another context where DPSIR is a common framework.

However, if you are not familiar with large-scale environmental management, where it is widely used since the mid-1990s,  you’re not expected to know about it. It got its critics, but continue to be considered as an important policy tool. DPSIR start by thinking about driving forces – trends or mega-trends that are influencing the ecosystem that you’re looking at. The drivers lead to specific pressures, for example, pollution or habitat fragmentation. To understand the pressures, we need to monitor and understand the state of the system – this is lots of time where citizen science and sensing data are used. Next, we can understand the potential impacts and then think of policy responses. So far, hopefully clear? You can read more about DPSIR here.

I haven’t come across the use of DPSIR outside the environmental area (but maybe there is?). However, as I was thinking about it, as we prepared for the meeting, I suggested that we give it a go as a way to consider strategic actions and work for ECSA. It turns out that DPSIR is a very good tool for organisational development! It allowed us to have a 20 minutes session in which we could think about external trends, and then translate them into a concrete action. Here is an example (made up, of course, I can’t disclose details from a facilitated meeting…). I’m marking positive things, from the point of view of the organisation, as (+) and negative as (-).

Let’s think of a citizen science coordination society (CitScCoSo). in terms of drivers, an example will be “increase recognition of citizen science”, as Google Trends chart shows. Next, there are the pressures which include (-) the growth in other organisations that are dedicated to citizen science and compete with CitScCoSo, which mean that it will need to work harder to maintain its position, (+) increase in requests to participate in activities, projects, meetings, talks etc which will create opportunity to raise profile and recognition. CitScCoSo current state can be that the organisation is funded for 5 more years and have a little spare capacity for other activities. The impacts can be (+) more opportunities for research funding and collaborations or, (-) demand for more office space for CitScCoSo (-) lack of IT infrastructure for internal organisational processes. Finally, all this analysis can help CitScCoSo in response – securing funding for more employees or a plan for growth.

When you do that on a flipchart with 5 columns for the DPSIR element, it becomes a rapid and creative process for people to work through.

As I pointed, a short exercise with ECSA board showed that this can work, and I hope that the outcomes are helpful to the organisation. I will be interested to hear if anyone else know of alternative applications of DPSIR…

 

Participatory soundscape sensing – joint paper with Dr Chunming Li

One of the lovely aspects of scientific research is its international dimension – the opportunity to collaborate with people from different places, cultures, and necessarily practices and points of view.

PSSonline-CMLiDuring 2017, Dr Chnming Li, of the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Science, was a visiting researcher in ExCiteS. Dr Li research is on participatory sensing and the development of sensors and applications for the urban environment. We collaborated on a paper that described the Participatory Soundscape Sensing project that he is developing, with an app on Android mobile phones, called SPL Meter, that is used to carry out the participatory sensing.

One demonstration that culture matter is in the app request for classification of sound as “harmonious” – a qualification of the sound in the right place, such as traffic noise on the road, or birds in the park. This is a quality that I haven’t encountered in studies in Europe or USA.

The paper is: “Li, C., Liu, Y., and Haklay, M., 2018, Participatory soundscape sensing, Landscape and Urban Planning 173: 64-69

Here is the abstract of the paper, and a link to the paper itself:

“Soundscape research offers new ways to explore the acoustic environment and potentially address challenges. A comprehensive understanding of soundscape characteristics and quality requires efficient data collection and analysis methods. This paper describes Participatory Soundscape Sensing (PSS), a worldwide soundscape investigation and evaluation project. We describe the calibration method for sound pressure levels (SPL) measured by mobile phone, analyze the PSS’s data temporal-spatial distribution characteristics, and discuss the impact of the participants’ age and gender on the data quality. Furthermore, we analyze the sound comfort level relationships
with each class of land use, sound sources, subjective evaluation, sound level, sound harmoniousness, gender, and age using over a year of shared data. The results suggest that PSS has distinct advantages in enhancing the amount and coverage of soundscape data. The PSS data distribution is closely related to the temporal pattern of the human work-rest schedule, population density, and the level of cyber-infrastructure. Adults (19–40 years old) are higher-quality data providers, and women exhibit better performance with respect to data integrity than men. Increasing the proportion of natural source sounds and reducing the proportion of humanmade sources of sound is expected to enhance the sound comfort level. A higher proportion of sound harmoniousness
leads to higher sound comfort, and the higher proportion of subjective evaluation sound level does not lead to decreased sound comfort. We suggest that the crowdsourcing data with participatory sensing will provide a new perspective in soundscape investigation, evaluation, and planning.”

The paper is available on ScienceDirect or also here

Chapter in Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice – Participatory GIS and community-based citizen science for environmental justice action

The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice has been published in mid-September. This extensive book, of 670 pages is providing an extensive overview of scholarly research on environmental justice

The book was edited by three experts in the area – Ryan Holifield from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Jayajit Chakraborty from the University of Texas at El Paso, and Gordon Walker from the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK. All three have affiliations that relate to Geography, and geographic and environmental information play a major part in the analysis and action regarding environmental justice.

The book holds 51 chapters that are covering the theory and practice of environmental justice – from how it is analysed and understood in different academic disciplines, to the methods that are used to demonstrate that environmental justice issues happen in a place,  and an overview of the regional and global aspects of current environmental justice struggles. The range of chapters and the knowledge of the people who write them are making this collection a useful resource for those who are studying and acting in this area (though few top authors in this field are missing, but their work is well referenced)

However, with a price tag of £165 for the Book, the costs put an obstacle for those who need the information but suitable for universities and libraries. The eBook is £35, which makes it much more affordable, though having used the online system, the interface could be better. Luckily the policy of Routledge permits sharing the chapters on personal websites.

My contribution, together with Louise Francis, is in Chapter 24 –Participatory GIS and community-based citizen science for environmental justice action. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the use of participatory GIS in environmental justice action, but in particular, a detailed explanation of the methodology that we have developed a decade ago, with contributions from Colleen Whitaker, Chris Church and other people that worked with us a the time. The methodology is now used in the activities of Mapping for Change.  The methodology supports both participatory mapping and citizen science.

As we note in the chapter “Our methodology emerged in 2007, through the London 21 Sustainability Network project ‘A Fairer, Greener London’, which aimed to give six marginalised communities the opportunity to develop their own understanding of local environmental justice issues and supporting action plans to address them. The project was integrated closely with the project ‘Mapping Change for Sustainable Communities’ which was funded as part of the UrbanBuzz scheme. Both projects were based on accessible GIS technologies and available environmental information sources.

The methodology evolved into a six-stage process that is inherently flexible and iterative – so, while the stages are presented here as a serial process, the application of the methodology for a specific case is carried out through a discussion with the local community.” The chapter provides an example for the implementation of the methodology from the work that we carried out in the Pepys Estate.

If you want to read the whole chapter (and use the methodology) you can find it here. For any other chapter in the handbook, email the authors and they will probably share a copy with you. 

RGS-IBG 2017 – Just air? Spatial injustices, contestation and politicisation of air pollution (session notes)

These are notes from some of the talks from the two sessions on Just air? during the RGS-IBG conference in 2017. Details of the sessions are available here and here.
Passive, reactive and participatory governance of the air: three approaches under scrutiny
Nicola Da Schio, Bas Van Heur (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
Looking at infrastructures, knowledge, and contestation as elements of their analysis. Scientific knowledge and experiential knowledge. Part of Smarter Labs project – living lab projects in 4 cities and in “Brussels living Lab” there are doing air pollution through a specific tool (low-cost black carbon monitor). They refer to the literature “government with science” of Whitehead – assumes knowledge production in the context of air pollution – generating knowledge is an essential part of managing it. It allows noticing how to make air visible and invisible, seeing the information about it as air infrastructure and examining the actual space for citizens to understand it. See different ways of participation – citizen receive information, consulted, and citizens are empowered to be governed. Similarly – deficit model, feedback model and collaborative research/citizen science and potential where co-production of knowledge appears.They also consider three roles for citizens: passive, active, co-produce. The situation in Brussels in fragmented institutional context – different bodies don’t talk with other organisations. Air quality is regional competence and understood as an environmental issue (not health – not even seen as such). Vibrant civil society, especially environmental organisations. Air pollution is seen traditionally as technical that should be left with experts. In the passive – government with science is passive, the reactive is in EIA, and the active role is in a project such as expAIR. Looking specifically as Mainstream GWS is being used by a regional governmental agency and interregional bodies. Citizens receive information and there are different policies. there are 13 measuring stations, providing information about the typical situation, and data analysis is done through BelATMO AQ index that is for communication, not for science. The information is communicated on a website with different colouring. Focus on ambient air pollution – just environmental matter. Pollution is only regulated contaminants, and spatial and temporal coverage across the area, and no special attention to specific places or the variability across space. There are contestations both from above (EU) and from below by the NGO Client Earth challenge to the government. They are contesting the policy with the same body of knowledge but also using different data. The expAIR project used 8 wearable devices for black carbon, the leading actors include the government and NGOs – the participants discuss the results. Conclusion – two different forms of knowledge:
the individual exposure that is seen as an environmental problem, while the participants sa group issue. The officials used it in different ways. The monopoly of air knowledge by the government is being challenged, in spite of that, it remains technical matter (analysis of the data), but co-production of knowledge but not being used, there is extensive scepticism towards citizen science. The role of instruments: faith in the tools/device which goes beyond what they can do. Huge faith in the information from the tool. A key moment is awareness of limitation.
On the other hand, there is the issue of who is doing the measurements, and the community has faith in the measurement of the citizens than the authorities. Another aspect is the proliferation of methods and devices around air and its multiple manifestations – so much more is measured and more visible. It can be politicised – the aim is closing the debate down so it is measured to address it. There is contradictory nature – how to open it up the discussion. In Delhi, there is state monitoring infrastructure = contested by civil society who use their own sensors and everyone agree that the state infrastructure is better, and other people don’t have the resources to confront the state produced data – the presence of data and data quality. Also which air to measure – is it about indoor or ambient which bring the gender, class and marginalisation.
There are issues of inclusion and exclusion in the production of knowledge – to minimise exclusion, the Brussels project makes a specific effort to include different groups. A key element of exclusion – only attract those that are already interested, and it can be challenging. In Delhi, there is also the issue of people who can understand English and understand the information and ability to be involved in the articulation of the systems.
How a large-scale citizen science project managed to combine scientific rigour, policy influence and deep citizen engagement by measuring ambient air quality in Antwerp Suzanne Van Brussel (Ghent University, Belgium)
Huib Huyse (KU Leuven, Belgium)
Abstract: Citizen Science projects are increasingly recognised as a stepping stone for triggering behaviour change and building social capital around environmental issues. However, overview studies observe recurrent challenges in many citizen science projects in terms of combining high levels of data quality with deep citizen engagement and policy influence. This paper reports on the findings of the CurieuzeNeuzen project (www.CurieuzeNeuzen.eu), a large scale citizen science project on air quality conducted in Antwerp in 2016, which managed to deliver simultaneously in the three result areas described above. CurieuzeNeuzen was initiated as an academic offspring by the citizen group Ringland, currently the largest citizen initiative in Belgium in the area of mobility, city planning and livability. Through CurieuzeNeuzen, 2000 citizen studied the air quality levels in and around Antwerp and were intensively deliberating on possible causes and solutions. The findings from CurieuzeNeuzen were picked-up academically and contributed actively to policy debates on air quality at the level of both city and region.”
Looking at Antwerp from a planning perspective – a need for sustainable mobility that requires behaviour change – so framing citizen science.  See behaviour change through social capital and citizen science as a catalyst and there need scientific rigour, effective policy uptake, and engaging enough citizens in the project. They are evaluating if the project managed to achieve this. They identify benefits and challenges and internal and external values. The CureuzeNeuzen CS project was designed as a co-created projects – measuring ambient traffic and aimed at behaviour change. The project included monitoring over 2000 locations across Antwerp – focusing on spatial distribution. The project focused on the number of volunteers, the validity of monitoring and the devices, they also used a well-tested method: diffusion tubes – cost effective at this scale and provided guidance on how to install them. The methodology was approved by the Flemish environment agency. They provided high detailed data-set which demonstrated the variability. The traffic intensity and distance from ring-road provided the explanation for variability. They compared results to models which underestimated the level of pollution. The policy uptake – there was involvement of research institutions, city administration who see it financially but since advantage. The local press also noticed it. The participation was driven by interest about air quality (91.8%) and also participation in a scientific project. People had a perception about the levels of air quality and a small group didn’t understand the issue (3%). For 58% the results matched their expectations. Of the 10% that found that the quality is worse than expected, didn’t want to put a poster about the data and its results due to concern about the message about their area. In terms of outreach, the project reached many more people than the direct participants. In terms of the perceptions of behaviour change, they are interested in seeing a change in less use of the car and more use of cycles, also selecting different routes to walk.
The politics of small particles: following PMs and their mobilities
Gordon Walker and Barbara Maher (Lancaster University, UK)
 The paper is following nano particulates – 50 nm and smaller. It’s the evolving science of air quality. Science has an important role in the governance of air – Boudia and Jas (2014) and Whitehead (2009) – its an evolving understanding of what the air is and how science comes to matter and air become part of policy formation. Barbara Maher is now looking at particulate and magnetite in the brain – with Gordon interest close to STS. The very high-resolution images of magnetite nanoparticles in brain samples – it was done with brain samples which are coming from cadavers and noticing nano-particles – 100nm to 10nm. particles that are crystalline or spherical. They have different sources. There are particles that are natural – from biogenic (from nature) but the spherical particles are non-biogenic – they are traces of the Anthropocene in the brain. Magnetite is abundant in urban airborne pollution. It’s a new visibility of small particles and their mobility, as well as new vulnerability – moving beyond the lungs but this is a different route that allows them to move to the brain directly. The early stage science opening up questions about the harm “matter out of place” – and what harm they are doing: potentially in Alzheimer and Dementia. Important “possible hazard” – very early stages.
The implications of rolling out this science – this and other forms of harms. What the geography? We don’t know what is the distribution of non-particles. No simple relationship with larger particles distribution also their circulations, accumulation is complex and uncertainties. Also, the sources are indoor and outdoors (e.g. toner), but even open fire. Filtering the diesel particles increased the production of nano particles. Also produced by breaking in cars. There are also complex temporalities of exposure and harm – like asbestos and might be that it only happens when people live long enough. So it can be disruptive of the assumed making and also what kind of justice – it’s not distributional: no classic analysis is possible, and it might not work. It is also procedural and epistemic – can get people involved but who to involve, whose voices should come – e.g. industrial environment, and is the work in the workplace that tested diesel can provide lay epidemiology. Ethical issues of how to respond to self-diagnosis.
The question is how disruptive will new making visible and what politics will come along with nature-culture, health consequences, responsibility, are there specific sites of contestation – work environment, places.
The politics of science and the media: the controversy on record air pollution in Oxford Street and other debates on bad air in London
Anneleen Kenis (KU Leuven, Belgium)

“This paper studies how air pollution as a largely invisible social-natural artefact has been translated into an issue of contention and debate in London during the last 20 years. Starting from the coverage of air pollution in five main newspapers, the paper identifies the critical discursive moments which significantly changed the terms of the debate. The staging of Oxford Street as the most polluted street in the world, the controversy around Sahara Dust as a ‘natural’ explanation for a smog episode in 2014, and the action of Black Lives Matter at London City Airport, which stated that those who are the first to die are not the first to fly, are just a few of the examples of initiatives that put air pollution on the agenda in recent years. The paper investigates the decisions, choices and exclusions that inevitably take place in this staging of air as a political issue. Already at the level of the construction of a scientific ‘fact’, processes of inclusion and exclusion take place. The spatial location of monitoring stations, the focus on particular pollutants and the chosen time frame influence the way the ‘fact’ of air pollution is constructed. But important choices also take place in the translation of these scientific ‘facts’ into ‘political ‘problems’. From high to illegal levels of air pollution, from the number of deaths to the level of costs, from people’s health to children’s health: these constructions all influence the terms of the debate. The emergence of political fault lines and antagonisms and the (lack of) activity of a whole range of social actors result from this and will in their turn further push the debate in specific directions. The paper analyses how this complex set of relations, and the forms of power involved, determined the framing of air pollution as we know it today.”

Media analysis of air quality in London which done in KCL group. Part of identifying how air is translated from largely invisible social natural artefact into political issues. Looked over 1594 articles in Guardian, FT, The Independent, Telegraph, Times. Started with quant analysis. Looked from 1997 to 2017. and noticed debate going on, until April 2014 from which it starts jumping up and especially growing very much now in 2017. The long period of low interest – the assumption is that “it’s all already there”, doesn’t lead to wider debate. Single articles, small spikes for all sort of reasons. April 2014 – Sahara dust and Oxford Street pollution – politicians dismiss it as a natural phenomenon that it is not serious. This is a moment that makes air pollution visible. There is another peak in 2015 in April 2015, the same story – the conflict seems to be overcome – are pollution is recognised as serious and man-made. Need new conflict lines – this is provided in July 2015 because of the Heathrow 3rd runway and VW scandal. There are conflict lines that are emerging and leading to interest: mayoral elections, MPs noticing public health emergency, Sadiq Khan making it a priority in May and Brexit debate toward the vote is noted. Last period from Sep 2016 and Mar 2017 you get social divisions and also “black lives matter city airport action” also the client earth work. Newspapers were selected according to who set the terms of the debate.

The upward spiral can come to saturation, or alternatively, new issues come to the foreground, say other issues.

Discussion points: other cases of impact on the brain include a mobilisation of the lead cases – and how people were thinking of bodies and vulnerability.

UCL Synergies podcast – Congo Citizen Science

The “UCL Synergies podcasts” is series of interviews with researchers who are working on a shared problem from two disciplinary perspective. It is part of the activities to demonstrate how UCL addresses the grand challenges. The series itself is an excellent  demonstration of the issues that come up in interdisciplinary research and you can find it here

As part of this series, Jerome Lewis and I had a conversation with Sue Nelson on our work. The podcast is about 10 minutes,  and you can listen to it here.

Leveraging the power of place in citizen science for effective conservation decision making – new paper

During the Citizen Science conference in 2015, a group of us, under the enthusiastic encouragement of John Gallo started talking about a paper that will discuss the power of place in citizen science. John provides a very detailed account about the way that a discussion and inspiration during the conference led to the development of the paper. Greg Newman took the lead on the process of writing, and the core analysis was based on classifying and analysing 134 citizen science projects.

My contribution to the paper is mostly in exploration of the concept of place including the interpretation within Human Geography of places as spaces of flows (so the paper cites Doreen Massey). I was also involved in various discussion about the development of the dimensions of place that were included in the analysis, while most of the work was done by Greg Newman, Bridie McGreavy  & Marc Chandler.

The paper is now out and free to read and reuse.

Place-based citizen science framework (a) before and (b) after leveraging the power of place. Note that after leveraging the power of place, the citizen science circle is enlarged to reflect a potential increase in participation, data collection, and quality of conservation decision making and that the overall influence of decision making also grew. Note also that the relative size of Zone One increased while the inherent capacity of the power of place remained the same size.
Place-based citizen science framework (a) before and (b) after leveraging the power of place. Note that after leveraging the power of place, the citizen science circle is enlarged to reflect a potential increase in participation, data collection, and quality of conservation decision making and that the overall influence of decision making also grew. Note also that the relative size of Zone One increased while the inherent capacity of the power of place remained the same size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it is, for me, expected that place will have an important role in citizen science, it is excellent to see that the analysis supported this observation through consistent classification of citizen science projects across three collections. The model above suggest how it can be used.

The paper development process, however, demonstrate the power of cyberspace, as the team met regularly online and shared documents, details and drafts along the way, with important regular online meeting that help it to come together. The paper started with all of us at the same place and at the same time, but this interaction was enough to sustain our team work all the way to publication.

The paper is open access and the abstract for it is:

Many citizen science projects are place-based – built on in-person participation and motivated by local conservation. When done thoughtfully, this approach to citizen science can transform humans and their environment. Despite such possibilities, many projects struggle to meet decision-maker needs, generate useful data to inform decisions, and improve social-ecological resilience. Here, we define leveraging the ‘power of place’ in citizen science, and posit that doing this improves conservation decision making, increases participation, and improves community resilience. First, we explore ‘place’ and identify five place dimensions: social-ecological, narrative and name-based, knowledge-based, emotional and affective, and performative. We then thematically analyze 134 case studies drawn from CitSci.org (n = 39), The Stewardship Network New England (TSN-NE; n = 39), and Earthwatch (n = 56) regarding: (1) use of place dimensions in materials (as one indication of leveraging the power of place), (2) intent for use of data in decision-making, and (3) evidence of such use. We find that 89% of projects intend for data to be used, 46% demonstrate no evidence of use, and 54% provide some evidence of use. Moreover, projects used in decision making leverage more (t = − 4.8, df = 117; p < 0.001) place dimensions (View the MathML source= 3.0; s = 1.4) than those not used in decision making (View the MathML source= 1.8; s = 1.2). Further, a Principal Components Analysis identifies three related components (aesthetic, narrative and name-based, and social-ecological). Given these findings, we present a framework for leveraging place in citizen science projects and platforms, and recommend approaches to better impart intended outcomes. We discuss place in citizen science related to relevance, participation, resilience, and scalability and conclude that effective decision making as a means towards more resilient and sustainable communities can be strengthened by leveraging the power of place in citizen science.