Citizen Science 2019: Designing technology to maximize cultural diversity, uptake, and outcomes of citizen science


DSCN3339This blog post was written by Michelle Neil of ACSA with edits by me (yay! collaborative note taking!) (apologies for getting names wrong!) 

The session was structured in the following way: first, each person presented their issue, and then they answer questions that were presented by other panel members. The questions that we managed to get through are:1)  What changes have you made to your design in order to be more inclusive or reach out to people beyond your “usual suspects”?

2)  How can we promote stronger partnerships between HCI/UX design & citizen science in order to produce technology that encourages inclusion?

3)  How do we begin to engage communities in the design of technologies and technology-based learning experiences, particularly within diverse communities and with diverse participants?

The session was organised by Jessie Oliver (Queensland University of Technology)Jessie’s research in about engaging people with acoustic citizen science particularly birders.  what are the barriers and challenges about looking at acoustics?

A1 What do people want to do? Be inside or outside? Musicians may be the key for acoustic citizen science more then birders.  Showed birders spectrographs of the bird sounds and they are not interested – they want to see birds!

A2 get it recognised as something that is worth looking at. Then keep diversifying. Then ask more / different groups.

Jonathan Brier (University of Maryland) Looking at how we do the science of citizen science and bug people about security and privacy. working on national portals of citizen science. interested in what we do on larger systems and how they change.
A1 Site needs to be compliant so people of all abilities need to be working

Q2 ask.  Go to the uni students! Also, go to the lowest level of technology.

Muki Haklay (University College London) in the context here, focus on research with non-literate groups on data collection and analysis but highlighting how paper-based prototyping in the field (including a chicken that walks on the prototypes) can help in effective design. Namibia - Map Visualisation Session2_Moment2
A1 how do we include train-spotters in citizen science? why?  Plane spotters used to be mocked until a database was needed about illegal planes….. the moment you start thinking about not your regular community but those that are more detail-oriented then we have inbuilt citizen scientists.

Q2 how he started in HCI – got into the area without knowledge from undergraduate computer science studies, so only learned it during PhD (with the help of Angela Sasse at UCL), and therefore know that need to collaborate with mainstream HCI experts on different projects, or working with MSc students.

Jenny Preece (University of Maryland) interest in citizen science on biodiversity of data collection.  Book  – Interaction Design that will come out soon in 5th edition and include 5 citizen science case studies.
Citizen science and human-computer interaction are both interested in humans. cit sci wants people to participate while HCI wants to see how people interact.

A1.  Don’t ask people to give you their design ideas. They don’t know what they are or they are scared to do so. Need to ask it differently

A2.  After hurricane Katrina libraries were a huge sanctuary so most people went to libraries to give people a centre of focus with a community and talking to the outside world.

Tamara Clegg (University of Maryland) new to citizen science. try to help people scient-ize in their everyday lives through designing technology and make learning experiences. NatureNet project is trying to reach communities that are underrepresented to do projects that better sustain their communities by using technologies.

A1. Titles can alienate people. come and help us make our technology better works better. Make it practical and relevant and communicable.

A2 Used HCI undergraduates as part of their assignment to do usability studies on tech as part of their degree. Also created the standards in accessibility. Have more conversations.  Also, (questions from the audience about hurricane Katrina aftereffects) equity social justice as started to take shape in the community.
Grant Miller (University of Oxford – Zooniverse)  Helped build over 100 citizen science projects in citizen science. engaged over 2 million people so far. PenguinWatch. The barrier to entry couldn’t be lower. Remove the barrier or get it as low as humanly possible.  Provide pathways for deeper engagement and connect with researchers. use plain language increases engagement.

A1 volunteer translation app in zooniverse so anyone can do projects.  Don’t ever ask anyone to be a citizen scientist on your project! Keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

A2 ask for people who do have broadband to help those who don’t. e.g. directing first responders to help those who are in trouble from the other side of the world.


Andrew Robinson

A1 If people were recording pokemon go but actually doing biodiversity that would be huge! We went for gamers with questagame. we are taking them outdoors. its an example of a non-traditional citizen scientist.<

Maryan Misouri

A1 Ended up working with people who were blind. very challenging. took more time, differently set up.

A2 Petra (Barcelona).  Explore hackerspaces, makerspeaces etc.

A2  Take a more basic approach. 80 rural counties in NC where broadband is not even accessible. Primarily done via telephone line so can’t assume good data transfer. Most affected people don’t have broadband. how do you do citizen science when you don’t have broadband? or you’ve had a hurricane?

Muki answer:  there are persistent digital divides. In some low-income communities, they leave school at 16 years old and don’t touch a computer. Have to re-learn after 5 years how the technology works again due to advances in interface design so don’t assume that everyone knows how to use computers. Need to look at south-north innovations – e.g. Ushahidi Brck.  local-mesh networks. .

Jennifer shorts-valler (?)

no communication. Recently taken over a Citizen Science project. How do we make it the best it can be? HCI folks were not on the radar. How do we connect the researchers and the HCI together? (Jessie to connect)

Daniel Powell uni of Maryland

Undergrads want to make an app for everything. what else is out there? Who else do we go to? How do we find these partnerships?

Muki – consider an empathy project. force student to deposit smartphones and use a function phone for a week.  In my field, there is a problem that most people don’t know how to read maps but the people in GIS think that everyone can read them. Issues of empathy between communities and those that design tech for them. Latest technology gets you into the top conferences but you can innovate on the function form. Get the empathy in.

Jessie created workshops and paid to bring citizen scientists plus brought in HCI people to co-create and was very fruitful

Jenny suggested developing an INTERACTIONS article and something similar with citizen science journal

Mark Handrichaw uni Ottowa

timing of the relationships and partnerships. need to have everyone together at the start. so you don’t go down rabbit holes.

yourong veee uni Washington

we are the best people to understand the users not the web designers. a difference of the partnership.

JESSIE: partnership doesnt exlude money.

Grant: get ownership and buy-in so get them interested (designers etc) treat them in the same way as volunteers but pay them.

Julie Sheerd Natural history of Denmark

Asking people to do an experiment and ask them to fill into a database. most said too hard and filled in the hard copy sheet instead. what about all these places online.  need an advocator in each country.

Jessie: need someone paid to collate and enter data. Privacy issues. need to make a clearinghouse that we can all use.

Tammy: the challenge in entering information into computers is a common one. If you are with family it is always easier to do something on a paper rather than entering onto the phone.

Vinny vandee design laboratory of san Diego

know the best practices but not everyone does. need a basic tutorial which describes<

JONATHAN we could add these ideas and FAQ on the associations’ websiteGuidelines are only general. number rof different guidelines.  A question of people being able to find it. Needs to be customisable to the community.

Ortez  (?)

wants to create a game that is super connected but it is super expensive. Paris has BirdLab. Costs $50k Euros. I don’t know how to find the money. How do you find the money? (Talk to Andrew from Questagame or Zooniverse but depends on what type of engagement you want).  Do you want it to actually be a game? explore all possibilities.

Can use the principles from community engagement of going where people are – in physical space but also online. need to go to where people are. the example is #RimFire01 observation spot on the way to Yosemite . Check the hashtag #Rimfire01

Using twitter or facebook (Andrew) we have a tendency that our motivations are everyone else. What motivates citizen scientists? Financial? gamers? Repercussions of using twitter and facebook for citizen science. A lot of people aren’t aware of this”


Flip the conversation. Citizen science work is getting kids outside. How do we include audiences who are disabled / too scared to go outside involved? how can we do it in a way that brings everyone in?

Brian Brown at Standford (TAMMY) – VR – count the healthy options in the community.

JOHNATHAN: Google hangouts used to engage others who can’t get there.

ALICE SHEPPARD:  Potential for soundscapes in citizen science. SoundScape, Project Soothe. Have you heard this bird?

HUSH City app.

MICHELLE _ sometimes HUSHCity app is used by parents who have kids who can’t handle loud noises. motivations.<


How do we engage?

MUKI starts from failure.  Coming into the area long after there were racial tensions. Somalis were not included and realised that at the end of the project. Needed to check the gov census first before you go into an area. Passive inclusiveness vs assertive inclusiveness.

GRANT; try to realise that your failing at it. Go and talk to diverse communities. Sitting with 6 blokes in Oxford asking the question means you haven’t started right.< VINNET PANDEY: Anytime I go into a formal meeting and pitch my project I went first into a kombuchaHUSH workshop. made friends. got into the community. JENNY:  be prepared to be very persistent and just keep trying. Ideally,  spend 1 to 2 years with a community so I know them really well before writing the grant proposal TAMMY:  Best one yet has been with my church. JESSIE:  buy-in is so important. started as a participant observer. So thrilled when I realised that they valued my work. FIND THE RIGHT PERSON IS TO GO IN AND WHO THEY HAVE TO SEE> DO THE RESEARCH!


Need to trick the organisation to get money? Include funds in your budget for community involvement / interns.


Citizen Science 2019: Citizen Science in Action: A Tale of Four Advocates Who Would Have Lost Without You

DSC_1533.JPGJessica Culpepper (Public Justice), Larry Baldwin (Crystal Coast Waterkeeper), Matt Helper (Appalachian Voices),  Michael Krochta (Bark). 
Jessica – there can be a disconnect between the work on the ground and how it is used in advocacy. On how to use the information to make the world a better place, and hold polluters to account.
DSC_1534.JPGFirst, Michael Krochta (Bark) from Portland, OR – NGO focusing on restoring forests about Mt Hood. Doing volunteer surveys.  They carry out ground truth by volunteers to inform management but also litigation in case of logging – a project about an old growth forest that was suggested, but volunteers identify rare species habitat which stopped the logging. The Mt Hood provide drinking water, but also an area of commercial logging activities. There are programmes of logging from the forestry service – an area is going through EIA according to NEPA, and if it is suitable, it is auctioned off. The national forest management act requires them to have a forest management plan, especially concerns over spotted owl from the 1970s. At each time, there is a large area that is being analysed for exploitation, and they don’t analyse it well enough. The ground truthing is to train volunteers are checking the information and demonstrating, for example, that an area that is the map indicated as only 30-year growth is actually an old growth one. Ground truthing include taking images, checking a diameter of a tree, and assessing the canopy cover. The forest service (USFS) have limitations and they do very simplistic analysis and apply an analysis of a small area over a large area – e.g. an area of 11,742 acres that through an effort by the NGO they dropped 1531 by demonstrating that aspect and slope are greater than 30%. There is a requirement to use more complex equipment.
The forest service is describing “desired future conditions” and demonstrating that the conditions are already there. Another evidence is “survey and manage” – the forest service require to survey and manage trees that are over 80 years old. There is an example of the Red Tree Voles (which the Spotted Owl) and because it’s hard to find the next of the voles, they don’t climb trees – once people are trained to climb Douglas Fir, they can collect evidence – the forest service is doing only ground-based surveys. A detailed map of the area helps in removing places that are within a radius from identified nests. There are also protected plant species that they identified by volunteers. Existing legal hook – National Forest Management Act on land allocation and current ecological conditions, NEPA in terms of baseline conditions and cumulative impacts, Endangered Species Act, “Survey and manage” from Northwest Forest Plan.
Volunteers demonstrate misclassification of an old growth area
Surveying Red Tree Voles nests

DSC_1538.JPGMatt Hepler – Appalachian Voices – part of Appalachian Citizens Enforcement alliance, is doing engagement with people about the Clean Water Act to monitor their watershed and bringing local knowledge to the front. People feel disempowered and don’t interact with state agencies – gave up hope or don’t know how. Holding state agencies and coal companies accountable. The sites that they are researching are hot spot – word of mouth on local knowledge, use of Google Maps and Google Earth and also use QGIS, and they look at Discharge Monitoring Reports – the mines are supposed to produce DMRs for each stream, and these can be examined and can also grab location so they can carry out their own analysis. Spending as much time analysing the maps to decide where to take samples as much as doing in the fields. Mapping is important – but not every community members are not good with computers or explaining how to use GPS and coordinates. The maps are important for not trespassing so to find places that it is possible to properly sample. There can be intervening sources that can impact the sampling site. They are using equipment in a library – using a pH buffer bottle, using instruments and people monitor pH, temperature, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Conductivity. If there is low pH or high conductivity they do further tests for heavy metals and sulfates and lab methods. It’s important to have QA – training on how to calibrate, how to not trespass and upload the data. There is limited editing access for data so it can be controlled. Calibration of probes before landing them. Using Virginia Tier II water quality data standards – checking that it’s good enough for state-level monitoring and evidence. There is also polaroid justice – provide photographic evidence for the work that they do so it can be submitted “Polaroid Justice”. They have a website and now considering replacing it with smartphones with EpiCollect and ArcGIS Online, as it allows offline data collection. ArcGIS online can pull data from the EPA, state agencies and other sources and that are useful. Some successes – in specific streams (Kelly Branch and Penn Virginia) for illegal discharge of selenium and that led to Supplemental Environmental Project that bring money to remedy, reporting water quality violations, also found abandoned mines locations, and increased knowledge and awareness. Data have been used by academics who are interested in water quality in Appalachia.

DSC_1541.JPGLarry Baldwin – talking from multiple organisations that he involved in: crystal coast waterkeeper and coastal Carolina riverkeeper. The issue is Coal Ash and CAFO – the residue for coal that is used in power plants, and CAFO is concentrated Animal Feeding Operations from pork and poultry (turkey and chicken) because of industrial farming. They got information from a farmer about coal ash spill in the Dan River and took to the air, showing a spill from coal and CAFO sources. They had volunteers who recognise the discharge and people took photos for weeks. There are quite a few sites like that. The issue with CAFO that come from factory farms that got a “lagoon” which is a cesspit – a hole in the ground that include the sewage from the swine and then sprayed on the ground as a “fertilisers”. There are issues of discharge from CAFO – you find it out from neighbours who are checking the information, Trespassing is an issue, and they allow the organisation to go and sample. There are big mountains of poultry waste – with nitrate, bacteria and all sort of other things in it. There are 2400 swine “lagoon” mostly near low-income communities and black and Hispanic communities. So they provided tools to allow communities members to collect evidence from aerial monitoring with volunteer pilots – who have their own aeroplane who are willing to fly over the property, with attempts not to allow flying a drone over a facility because that is not allowed by law. After hurricane Florence, when it hit on Saturday, they flew for 8 days, to document the impact of the storm. Used a sign on the board of the local airport and recruiting pilots this way (covering the fuels). Also doing campaigns which get people involved – including billboards. The industry got upset about the billboards that they put their own campaign. Use an innovative way to engage people – they pay for themselves in terms of participation. Going to lawsuits only as last options – using clean air act or legislative actions to campaign and change things. Lobbying, campaigning, the court of public opinion is also important – using the information from volunteers to put it in front of the public, conventional media (print/radio/TV), documentaries – bringing people from Russia, China and other countries to avoid the problem in their own country, and finally social media. Training people to take samples and teaching people to use equipment to prove the point in a specific issue. If it is not part of the volunteers who step up to be part of the solution.
DSC_1546.JPGJessica Culpepper  – Public Justice is a national advocacy organisation and they have lawyers and been doing it for 7 years. There are environmental lawsuits that are based on citizen science and it is important to use it in these cases. There are also gag laws that are being put even to block access to public land (the Wyoming law). These laws are there to stop citizen scientists to identify problems. Public justice is to identify the problems in the energy and agricultural sector – coal ash, water. The Food Project try to support dismantling industrial agriculture towards a regenerative form of animal agriculture. Believe in deep partnership with communities and representing farmers, rural communities, consumers, and workers. Focusing on communities that don’t have clean water because of nitrates. Poultry has issues of working rights and other issues. The Burton et al v Mountaire Poultry – in a Milsbrough they experience water pollution that a community of colour was exposed to without knowing. There is row poultry waste sprayed on the field, and when the incident happened, the environment agency sample 11 wells and just sent water softener without explanation how it will help the situation. A group at the Sussex County Del. , with a group keep our wells safe, and explain to community members that their water is not space, and stepping up is very scary – losing a job, excluded from a local church, children being bullied etc. There is a disposal field not far away from the community. There was a child who died from asthma, limb loss for diabetic patients – all associate from nitrate. They start by community well sampling project -and went door to door to do onsite nitrate and discovered that a lot of wells are contaminated. Used Google Earth to map Nitrate and also got evidence through freedom of information. As a lawyer, she can demonstrate that it is a facility that can be blamed It is possible to demonstrate the link – without citizen science and community science that enabled data collection. They also show that the trend is going up since the farm happened. The chart was created by one of the citizen scientists in the community. The data enabled to collaboratively create a groundwater flow map through a hydrogeologist – and they could prove that could bring a lawsuit on behalf the community – and there was a question of what they want to get out of it. They also did media blitz in USA Today and asked why senators don’t show up  in the communities, and that influenced the advocacy – it led to the America Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 to get a grant to monitor and if the polluter is identified, they need to cover the costs – that despite the link between Tom Carper link to Poultry industry in Delaware. You need a positive vision, show up and document, willingness to be out in the media by the community, work with a wider network – work of citizen scientists is amazing. Burnout is real, and you need to work with different groups – an effort by communities and fighting for 25-30 years, and there is a personal price that they pay, with threatening family members.
Mapping with tools such as Google Earth is valuable in EJ legal cases as it shows the vicinity of pollution sites to houses
Analysis by a community member provides evidence linking the development of the facility with pollution

Opportunity: come and help us create the ExCiteS Social Enterprise!

1. children explore and discuss icons after a particiaptory software development session in their camp. longa, republic of congo 2013The Extreme Citizen Science group, set up about 8 years ago, has developed two main technological infrastructures – Sapelli software to allow data collection by low-literacy participants, and GeoKey, a data management system for community mapping. We have also developed an engagement approach that allows for the co-production of the data collection process, and for sharing of the information in a culturally sensitive and ethical way. These developments were funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

We now have funding to grow these activities (and in particular the use of Sapelli) into a social enterprise, and we’re looking for a consultant (who will be encouraged to apply for the post of director once the organisation is set up). We have £40,000 to enable the consultant to dedicate themselves to develop the organisation over a year and a bit.

Apply for this post by responding to the tender available here

Further details:
UCL’s Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) group has recently been awarded EPSRC Impact Acceleration funding from the “Discovery To Use” initiative at UCL. The funding has been awarded to launch a social enterprise – the ExCiteS Social Enterprise (or ESE), via the Accelerated Market Entry and Upgrade project (AcuMEn). This tender represents one of several work packages to help launch this process. Each work package (see below) will be tendered separately.

Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) is a situated, bottom-up practice that takes into account local needs, practices and culture and works with broad networks of people to design and build new devices and knowledge creation processes that can transform the world. Over the last decade, ExCiteS has worked with indigenous and traditional communities in Cameroon, the Congos (RoC and DRC), Central African Republic, Ghana, the Brazilian Amazon, and Namibia on a range of projects – be it using participatory mapping to combat illegal resource extraction or invasions (often in the context of logging and poaching), or to monitor wildlife populations or a community’s territorial boundaries. This work supports environmental justice and strengthens conservation efforts as well as promoting and protecting the rights of these often vulnerable communities who sometimes live under the constant threat of exploitation and violence.
Our custom-developed mobile data gathering platform called Sapelli supports rapid adaptation to local conditions in the field through our unique approach that centres on participatory design with non-literate, non-technologically familiar users – developing locally-specific configurations of Sapelli to address problems identified by the community. Over the last 10 years we have carefully honed our methodology based on the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of participants into the development of a clear Community Protocol (CP) for the use of the technology and the data that is collected with it. These methodological approaches are integral to the successful application of the technologies we have developed.

The purpose of the AcUMEn project is to transform research collateral (the technologies and know-how) of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group into a set of commercially viable yet socially focused offerings in what we will describe as the ExCiteS Social Enterprise (ESE). We have reached a point of maturity with our tools and methods whereby we are able to transpose these research projects into a standardised approach suitable for various forms of service delivery. Whilst this is workable in a research context, they are barriers to usability when positioning it as a commercial proposition. This project is designed to remove those barriers, to establish a core operating model and branding, a clear set of commercial offerings supported by a clear business strategy, and to obtain an initial tranche of work.

This project will consist of three work packages (WPs), of which this project is the first:

WP 1: Secure initial funding for contracts, consolidate project delivery approach and build initial team, as well as control WP 2 and WP 3 in consultation with UCL ExCiteS. Towards the end of 2019, the role of a permanent director will be advertised via an open application process.

WP 2: Hire expert social enterprise consultants to develop a clear commercial strategy and 18-month roadmap in line with ExCiteS’ ethos of social responsibility and collaboration.

WP 3: Software consultancy to deliver key improvements to Sapelli, the mobile data gathering platform developed by the group through the last decade of research.

Please note that the exact constitution of the other work packages may be subject to change, depending on how this first phase of work proceeds.

Non-traditional data approaches and the Sustainable Development Goals workshop

The workshop took place in IIASA, which is located in Laxenburg in Austria. The workshop was hosted by the earth observation and citizen science group at IASSA. The workshop focus on the interface between citizen science, earth observation, and traditional data collection methods in the context of monitoring and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A contextual/perspective academic paper is an expected output of the workshop, so this post is only a summary of the opening presentations. There is also an overlap with the aim of the WeObserve project and the communities of practice in it.

The Earth Observation community geared up already to how it can contribute to the SDGs. EuroGEOSS workshop identified several SDGs where there can be a contribution of citizen science: No. 3 in wealth and wellbeing (e.g. greenspace in cities), No. 4 on quality of education, No. 5 in gender equality, No. 6 on water quality and flood management, No. 11 on sustainable cities – air quality, noise, empty houses, No. 14 – plastics, and No. 15 in species monitoring, disease, and finally on Global Partnership (No. 17).

DSCN3119Australian Citizen Science Association view – some awareness to SDGs and few projects that are linked to SDGs explicitly, though there is an issue of details. From the US CSA, the view is that there are projects that can be linked – water monitoring, CoCoRHaS, phenology, and eBird. Examples also include grassroots environmental monitoring, or the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. CitizenScience.Asia is a new network – in the context of China, people collect data to understand the environment, to collect evidence and protect rights, and for pure curiosity. The Blue-map used to report water pollution, it then goes to the government, and after being vetted it is shown, and some of it does not show. There are contributory DNA commercial project, but also “China Nature Watch” or Bauhinia Genome project that asks people to share information in Hong Kong. There are bottom-up projects, which include selling test kits for water which is used by people who share it on an online map – after 400-500 data points, the website was shut down by the government. There is also links to Public Lab – creating an automatic water monitor for flow. DSCN3122 Citizen Science Africa Association (CitSAF) – in Kenya the SDGs is getting attention (following the MDGs). NGOs activities are not synced with the government. Government pay attention to health, water, and education. CitSAF emerged from links to UNEP and focused on Kenya – air quality, some research on Malaria, and they can see interest in Nigeria, South Africa and other countries. CitSAF wants to increase the involvement and responsibility of citizens in African countries towards their natural and socio-cultural environment, especially in monitoring the SDGs. The SDG/CS Maximisation group which works across the citizen science associations (which Libby Hepburn coordinates) pointed out that the challenge is the bottom-up – from practitioners, and top-down from the UN and different countries. There is work on the credibility aspects of citizen science. There are is a need for facilitation between the CS community and the SDG community to progress things. The Citizen Science Global Partnership – launched in December 2017, as a network of networks to support citizen science activities. The global partnership has ideas and interest in working with the SDG but they are aspirational at the moment. They include – a platform for coordinating citizen science under the banner of SDG.

The Stockholm Environment Institute analysis of citizen science and SDGs: SEI has worked on environment/development over 30 years with many participatory activities, and worked explicitly on citizen science for the past 10 years. In the analysis they identified that citizen science can be used to refine and define goals; then monitoring; and even for achieving – e.g. in education, gender. The Citizen Science Centre in Zurich focuses on a platform – to allow projects, knowledge in the area, community of citizens and scientists, and projects. The open seventeen challenge is a good example for challenge-based workshops that help people to develop projects. There is an aim for developing an SDG citizen science toolkit. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has created an inventory of citizen science activities and mapping them against the SDGs with results being published soon. In addition, there is an effort of a standard for citizen science data and metadata with links to COST Action effort. There is a potential for recording aspects of participants if that is appropriate in the metadata. There is a specific effort of developing guidelines for environmental reporting in a process that will allow it to be cross EU.

SDSN – Sustainable Development Solution Network set up by the UN for the implementation of the sustainable development, with 800 members of universities, and other groups. Within that, the TRENDS group focuses on data governance? How people can integrate data from new sources. 20 expert members and focus on strengthening the data ecosystem, improve learning and data sharing, developing policies, and inform investment. The work is framed around data governance and use. The POPGRID project is attempting to reconcile different sources of data to get good population estimates. Another UN effort is the UN-GGIM have done work on identifying geospatial sources that can be used in SDG with an analysis to understand the indicators at different tiers – the There is an opportunity to understand which indicators information is considered relevant, and where are data gaps. The thinking about crowdsourced and citizen science data is how to find it how to have metadata, understanding comparability and good usability for an SDG indicator. The is an issue about the global spatial data infrastructure for citizen science and crowdsourced data. There is a need to budget for data management, metadata recording and sharing of information from crowdsourced projects. There is a call for good practises and lessons learnt about the SDG indicators in the sustainable development knowledge platform.

UN Environment pointed that the SDGs includes 244 indicators, and they were developed through the inter-agency and expert group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDG). The custodian agency is developing a methodology, improving capacity, and getting and using the data. The three types of data include country submission of data, data that is complimented with international estimates, and some global data products. There is an effort to consider a mapping exercise and then think where it can be used. A way forward is to identify one indicator, and try to get it accepted – need to be Tier 3. So the opportunity for citizen science is in an indicator that needs to be tier 3, but without an internationally established methodology or standard.


Papers from PPGIS 2017 meeting: state of the art and examples from Poland and the Czech Republic

dsc_0079About a year ago, the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, hosted the PPGIS 2017 workshop (here are my notes from the first day and the second day). Today, four papers from the workshop were published in the journal Quaestiones Geographicae which was established in 1974 as an annual journal of the Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences at the university.

The four papers (with their abstracts) are:

Muki Haklay, Piotr Jankowski, and Zbigniew Zwoliński: SELECTED MODERN METHODS AND TOOLS FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN URBAN PLANNING – A REVIEW “The paper presents a review of contributions to the scientific discussion on modern methods and tools for public participation in urban planning. This discussion took place in Obrzycko near Poznań, Poland. The meeting was designed to allow for an ample discussion on the themes of public participatory geographic information systems, participatory geographic information systems, volunteered geographic information, citizen science, Geoweb, geographical information and communication technology, Geo-Citizen participation, geo-questionnaire, geo-discussion, GeoParticipation, Geodesign, Big Data and urban planning. Participants in the discussion were scholars from Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the USA. A review of public participation in urban planning shows new developments in concepts and methods rooted in geography, landscape architecture, psychology, and sociology, accompanied by progress in geoinformation and communication technologies.
The discussions emphasized that it is extremely important to state the conditions of symmetric cooperation between city authorities, urban planners and public participation representatives, social organizations, as well as residents”

Jiří Pánek PARTICIPATORY MAPPING IN COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION – CASE STUDY OF JESENÍK, CZECH REPUBLIC “Community participation has entered the 21st century and the era of e-participation, e-government and e-planning. With the opportunity to use Public Participation Support Systems, Computer-Aided Web Interviews and crowdsourcing mapping platforms, citizens are equipped with the tools to have their voices heard. This paper presents a case study of the deployment of such an online mapping platform in Jeseník, Czech Republic. In total, 533 respondents took part in the online mapping survey, which included six spatial questions. Respondents marked 4,714 points and added 1,538 comments to these points. The main aim of the research was to find whether there were any significant differences in the answers from selected groups (age, gender, home location) of respondents. The results show largest differences in answers of various (below 20 and above 20 year) age groups. Nevertheless, further statistical examination would be needed to confirm the visual comparison”.

Edyta Bąkowska-Waldmann, Cezary Brudka, and Piotr Jankowski: LEGAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE USE OF GEOWEB METHODS FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN SPATIAL PLANNING IN POLAND: EXPERIENCES, OPINIONS AND CHALLENGES “Geoweb methods offer an alternative to commonly used public participation methods in spatial planning. This paper discusses two such geoweb methods – geo-questionnaire and geo-discussion in the context of their initial applications within the spatial planning processes in Poland. The paper presents legal and organizational framework for the implementation of methods, provides their development details, and assesses insights gained from their deployment in the context of spatial planning in Poland. The analysed case studies encompass different spatial scales ranging from major cities in Poland (Poznań and Łódź) to suburban municipalities (Rokietnica and Swarzędz in Poznań Agglomeration). The studies have been substantiated by interviews with urban planners and local authorities on the use and value of Geoweb methods in public consultations.”

Michał Czepkiewicz, Piotr Jankowski, and Zbigniew Zwoliński: GEO-QUESTIONNAIRE: A SPATIALLY EXPLICIT METHOD FOR ELICITING PUBLIC PREFERENCES, BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS, AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE – AN OVERVIEW “Geo-questionnaires have been used in a variety of domains to collect public preferences, behavioural patterns, and spatially-explicit local knowledge, for academic research and environmental and urban planning. This paper provides an overview of the method focusing on the methodical characteristics of geo-questionnaires including software functions, types of collected data, and techniques of data analysis. The paper also discusses broader methodical
issues related to the practice of deploying geo-questionnaires such as respondent selection and recruitment, representativeness, and data quality. The discussion of methodical issues is followed by an overview of the recent examples of geo-questionnaire applications in Poland, and the discussion of socio-technical aspects of geo-questionnaire use in spatial planning”

These papers provide examples from Participatory GIS in Poland and the Czech Republic, which are worth examining, as well as our review of the major themes from the workshop. All the papers are open access.

Digital Representations of Place: Urban Overlays and Digital Justice

dsc_1026Summary of the session on Digital Representation of Place at the RGS-IBG conference in Cardiff. The session aim was to address the following challenge: “Over the last few decades, our cities have become increasingly digital. Urban environments are layered with data and algorithms that fundamentally shape our geographic interactions: impacting how we perceive, move through, and use space. Spatial justice is thus inextricably tied to data justice, and it has become imperative to ask questions about who owns, controls, shapes, and has access to those augmented and hybrid digital/physical layers of place. Now that over half of humanity is connected to the internet, do we see greater levels of representation of, and participation from, previously digitally disconnected populations? Or are our digitally dense environments continuing to amplify inequalities rather than alleviate them? A growing body of knowledge documents the societal impact such digital representations can have, for example when they favour the interests of one privileged group (such as tourists) at the expense of others. We seek to systematise this knowledge, and to provide guidance for practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers to address imbalances and inequalities in representation.”
An Introduction to Digital Representations of Place
Mark Graham (University of Oxford, UK) Martin Dittus (University of Oxford, UK)
dsc_1027A bit of background on information geography.  Information geography is about a way to represent a place online – e.g. a place on Wikipedia – place, coordinates, and the fact that the information is coded also as a database, so it’s possible to map the unevenness of digital representation of the work. So information geography is asking at looking at the digital and the physical world (definition in Graham, Zook and Boulton 2013). We then can ask questions about where the imbalances coming from – for example, the cost of bandwidth, there are still places in the world that can’t access and participate. There is also questions about who owns, controls, shapes, and has access to those augmented and hybrid digital/physical representations of place.There is difference about the degree in which people at a place edit the information about the place. Which parts of the world telling about the place and you can see it in different parts of the world – down to a city. It matter, because the world is shaped through devices and everywhere you go, you have a digital overlay of the world that influence actions. Examples are the way restaurants are coming in Hebrew, Arabic, and English in Google in Tel Aviv and getting very different representations. We can ask about the concepts and framing that we use to talk about it.
The persistent environmental digital divide
Muki Haklay (University College London, UK)
Over 25 years ago, as the web was emerging as a medium for distributing public information, it was promoted as a tool for increased democratisation. From the age of dial-up modem and PCs to the use of mobile phones and smartphones, concerns about digital divides and how they impact the ability of local participation in environmental decision-making never resolved. These digital divides are creating a tapestry of marginalisation through different devices, skills, and communication potentials, and it is valuable to reflect on their dimensions – both technical and social, and consider how we can consider them in a systematic way. The talk will attempt to reflect on technological and social changes and the attempts to address them.
The talk itself started with the vision of Agenda 21 and Principle 10, and the promises that they’ve made about the potential of information to make a transformation in public engagement in environmental decision-making. It then looks at the developments in each time period – the first 10 years to 2002, with rapid development, and examples of the use of the internet and the Web in sharing information, but also challenges of access – that’s the period when concerns over digital divide started emerging. The next decade brings with it promises about open data, but create new challenges – use of smartphones and payment of data access. The digital divide mutates, though the know how is rather similar to the first period. Finally, we get to the last 6 years, where we actually seeing some challenges, such as the closure of some data and risks for the continuation of open data programmes. Overall, we can identify 7 digital divides that are fairly persistent over these 26 years and they raise some issues about the potential of access to environmental information.
Hybrid forms of public participation in Madrid and Taiwan : how can we bridge digital inequalities?
Yu-Shan Tseng (Durham University, UK)
dsc_1028This paper seeks to uncover forms of digital inequalities within new processes of public participation in Madrid and Taiwan (Decide Madrid and vTaiwan).
Preliminary analysis from Taiwan and Madrid – hybrid forms of public participation in Madrid and Taiwan. There are different contexts in global North and global South. The background is that the two cases are linked to the Occupy Movement and opening up democracy – e.g. Indignados/ 15M and Sunflower Movement. With the background, Kinsley suggest that there is a material turn in virtual geography. We get infrastructuring of the digital platforms and to think about the way we can see bridges between digital and material. There is agency of infrastructures – based on Thrift and Star. The concepts provide a basis for understanding the “Decide Madrid” and vTaiwan systems. There is an infrastructure that point to a collaborative process that require people to work together and you are supposed to see a visualisation of where your opinion sit. The Decide Madrid have five processes, and each process include collaboration. In the Decide Madrid, the infrastructure is not only the user interface but also the link to urban space and objects – ballot papers is linked to OCR in order to be input to the system. Another aspect is the invisible infrastructure – the algorithms that show information, sort it and present it. In Decide Madrid, they try to make some of the sorting algorithms visible. The implications – connecting objects and urban spaces is a way to diversify the form of public participation. The infrastructures are becoming political agents – they specify the space of operating and the boundaries. The wider implication – vTaiwan present a post-political community, in which the most influential actors are the powerful citizens and senior politicians – the system is not supposed to disrupt current power structures, where as in Decide Madrid there is participatory budgeting of 100m Eur

Smart Cities in the Making: Learning from Milton Keynes
Gillian Rose (University of Oxford, UK)
dsc_1030How do smart technologies and policies bed into a city, creating new layers and networks of urban experience and differentiation? SCiM-MK is a social science research project which seeks to answer that question by examining Milton Keynes as a smart city ‘in the making’. Focusing on the citizens, governance, workplaces, data and visualisations of smart, SCiM-MK looks at the social effects of smart city technologies. In particular, SCiM-MK will find out how social difference affects participation in smart, and whether smart creates new forms of social difference.
The results emerge from an ESRC project that look at Milton Keynes development. The city is a living lab for urbanism, and hosting different smart cities activities. From autonomous vehicle to open data. The open data portal is a specific focus. The data hub started as an early data repository, to gather all the data about the city to provide access to information. The portal was used in particular to address issues of social inequality, and data was used by third sector body. Use was done people calling technical people and asking to provide an answer. As apart of the observatory was moved to MK Insight which is done with BT as a commercial data hub, and the assumption is that it will be sold elsewhere. It was design by engineers at BT and OU, with “Will built it and they will come” – dealing with ownership and considering aspects about privacy. There was excitement on the data side, but less on how it is going to be used by non-experts. There is a whole set of activities to make the data available and usable for people “without PhD in computer science” – e.g. an app for elderly people who the young person assumed they need cheap things and toilets, which the user group was not happy with it. The model of the data hub – it is assumed to represent the offline world, and ignores other parts of the world we can make normative claims on how it need to be created to be more representative. Is data actually a thing that can be commodify, or are we think about it as a thing by default? Is the ownership and costs should we ask about it? What we think of as data – with senior managers from engineering and technology background raised the issue of “what data set do we need?” not how many time you jump on a tube – we need to think of selfies, family photos, social media- the rich and detailed way to understand how city function properly. There are issues of privacy, and surveillance that we need to consider. There is always relationality in the city – relationship of giving, and many data feeds are affective and we can think of social media as such. The engagement of people in apps demonstration that it was passion about changing the life and doing something more than just the technology . Two more point: looking at social media, is to think about feminists and researchers of colour – women have feminists accounts and it might be the reasons that we ignore. We can also think about recialisation about who can participate and who can’t. Secondly, there is much more visual
Data-driven urbanism, citizenship and justice
Rob Kitchin (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
dsc_1031Covering the normative discussion – there are some concepts about smart cities technology – they are influencing across services, government, and infrastructures – from security, to transport, waste, environment, building, homes and civic forms. We also see the data driven urbanism, in the way that you get control rooms of different types with a concept of managing the city through data use – from Rio to dealing with the whole city, to a specific infrastructure (a tunnel). So how are citizens framed and thought about across the technology. The original critique of smart cities was that they are about controlling and creating new-liberal logic of the city – not city focus. The response was to make it citizen-centric or citizen-focused and the question is: did it happen? e.g. how citizens framed, what action they can form? There is too little about identities and exclusion in the smart cities? There is a need to balance state/market/civic society and we need to shape how the negotiations will progress. To answer, we have to think about the citizenship, social justice. The scaffolding of the citizen in the smart city and what is the role as a consumer. As you go through different levels, we have different numbers of participants and their relative influences. We can therefore think of citizenship and social justice – the are different levels and they are trying to get away with “pragmatic” or “practical” and not working through what it mean. When we work through citizenship, we can see Marshall (1950) concepts of civil/legal, political, social and then add to it symbolic, cultural and ask questions on how this is linked and should be operationalised. The smart citizenship is underpinned by neo-liberal concept of citizenship in consumption choice, individual autonomy and civic paternalist way. We also need to think which concept of justice we need to think about distributional, procedural, retributive, restorative. Smith (1994) suggest different models in Geography and Social Justice and there are different models that we need to think about it.
This short intervention will discuss and critique the creation of data-driven urbanism and urban science, focusing on notions of citizenship and social justice. In particular, an argument is made that smart city interventions are underpinned by a narrow instrumental rationality and top-down forms of civic paternalism and stewardship, rather than being rooted in notions of more political and philosophically grounded notions of citizenship, justice, fairness, equity, democracy, and rights. However, while there is some critique of data-driven urbanism that it should be more citizen-centric and just, what that means in theory and practice is rarely articulated. There are many theories of social justice for example – egalitarianism, utilitarianism, libertarianism, contractarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, etc – and of citizenship, and each envisions a different set of principles, rights, entitlements and social relations. In other words, digital justice underpinned by each one of these theories would be markedly different. This then raises the question, so what kind of justice and citizenship are we hoping to enact when we call for digital and spatial justice?
Discussion: A question about data stories and the media – comparing the story of the Chemical Release Inventory and FoE in the 1996, which is clearly to create the opportunity for the government to share information, to the oddities of the data refuge which didn’t look into archiving, FoI, legal instruments, and the rest to gain access to the system. There was also an issue of using proprietary systems for archiving.
The Decide Madrid and vTaiwan are both led by civic hackers from the occupy movement, but the platforms are not that open – they are open to people who know how to code, but for ordinary people the system is not open to change. The balloting with the OCR – if you can only access through paper ballot you need to have the physical access to do the paper for you, and it is therefore both opening and closing the process.
Framing by injustice creating a certain set of problems – to a degree, but getting a purchase on what is happening in systems which are rooted in political ideological – privatisation, control, marketisation, and we need to counter them within their  concepts. Notions of participation, citizenship, are not shared by different actors. The issue is problematic in any case. One of the reasons the conversations are difficult is that it is not Habermasian public sphere, rather a very complex ideological space with different motivations.
Methodological approaches to images – the access to it become harder and harder. It got performative aspects. In terms of access and how to access Instagram – lot’s of time it is open and close in different ways. It is a changing field and we need to think about it.
There are questions about representation and the way that it creates inequalities and these representations are creating new ways of injustice and representation. The different sources have different forms of inequalities embedded when we look how they are produced. This is also true for the digital platforms and the way that different people understand systems and how they operate.

Developing mobile applications for environmental and biodiversity citizen science: considerations and recommendations

The first outcome of the December 2016 workshop on apps, platforms, and portals for citizen science projects was the open access paper “Defining principles for mobile apps and platforms development in citizen science“, which came out in October 2017.

Lunaetal2018Fig3.pngThe workshop, which was organised by Soledad Luna and Ulrike Sturm from the Berlin Museum for Natural History, has led to a second output – a chapter in the book Multimedia Tools and Applications for Environmental & Biodiversity InformaticsThe invitation for contributions came at the right time with the first workshop in December 2016. The Chapter was completed in August 2017 and finally came out at the beginning of the month. A year from submission to getting it in press, which is fairly common in academic publications.

The chapter is different from the journal article, in providing more detailed examples of applications, and summarising aspects of systems in use and data standards that can be applied.

The abstract of the paper is:

The functionality available on modern ‘smartphone’ mobile devices, along with mobile application software and access to the mobile web, have opened up a wide range of ways for volunteers to participate in environmental and biodiversity research by contributing wildlife and environmental observations, geospatial information, and other context-specific and time-bound data. This has brought about an increasing number of mobile phone based citizen science projects that are designed to access these device features (such as the camera, the microphone, and GPS location data), as well as to reach different user groups, over different project durations, and with different aims and goals. In this chapter we outline a number of key considerations when designing and developing mobile applications for citizen science, with regard to (1) interoperability and data standards, (2) participant centred design and agile development, (3) user interface & user experience design, and (4) motivational factors for participation.

The chapter can be accessed using the following link Luna et al 2018 Developing mobile applications for citizen science – enjoy reading!