Into the night – training day on citizen science

dscn1936Last December, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) awarded funding to UCL Extreme Citizen Science group and Earthwatch as part of their investment in public engagement. The projects are all short – they start from January to March and included public engagement and training to early career researchers.

“Into the Night” highlights the importance of light pollution, a growing environmental stressor to both wildlife and humans, through collaborative and co-designed citizen science research. The project aims to increase awareness of this issue through two public workshops exploring the potential of two citizen science focal points – glow-worms and human wellbeing – explicitly linking ecological and human impacts. The project will culminate with a set of public activities (pilot data collection and educational) to coincide with Earth Hour (25.03.2017).

The project aims to build public engagement capacity through PhD internships with Earthwatch (Europe), CEH, Natural England and UCL, and forms a dedicated training day on the design and implementation of citizen science for 50 early-career researchers and PhD students.

The project is led by UCL (in collaboration with North Carolina State University – NCSU) and Earthwatch, bringing together leading research and practice in citizen science. It is the result of two co-design workshops, with over 30 participants from environmental science, social science, public health, National Parks, and NGOs. Based on this preparatory work, and with active training of early career researchers, we will run two focused workshops which will take place in dark sky reserves. These workshops will focus on two preliminary ideas for citizen science projects: a countrywide survey of glow-worms and the impact of artificial light on their activities, and the influence of lightscapes and dark green spaces on human wellbeing while balancing safety and concerns.

The two projects will generate public awareness and provide the public with opportunities to have debate and dialogue on the subject, as well as involvement in data collection and analysis. Results will be shared through social and traditional media. The outcome will advance ideas for a national citizen science project, which UCL and Earthwatch will take forward.

The training day run in Oxford on the 2nd February and during the day I gave two 45 minutes sessions. First, I provided an introduction to the field of citizen science, how to design a project, and how to evaluate such a project.

The session provided a brief overview of the types of citizen science that are relevant in addressing environmental challenges. We looked at classifications of citizen science projects, explore their potential goals, the process of recruitment and retention as well as the need to start project evaluation from an early stage. At the end the participants engage in a short exercise to consider how these elements can be used in the design of a citizen science project.

The second talk focused on technology.

The talk aim was described as follows: Current citizen science seems effortless…just download an app and start using it. However, there are many technical aspects that are necessary to make a citizen science project work. This session provided an overview of all the technical elements that are required – from the process of designing an app, to designing and managing a back-end system, to testing the system end to end before deployment. Again, at the end of the session, a short exercise considered the design of an app for a citizen science project that addresses light pollution.

 

Editorial in Human Computation Journal – Creativity and Learning in Citizen Cyberscience

As part of a special issue of the open access Human Computation Journal, I am the co-author of the editorial Creativity and Learning in Citizen Cyberscience – Lessons from the Citizen Cyberlab Summit. Following the summit (see blog post here), Egle Ramanauskaite took the blog posts and edited them with her notes, which led to a summary and analysis of the summit. cyberlab

Here is the abstract:

“This article summarizes the Citizen Cyberlab (CCL) Summit, which took place at University of Geneva on 17-18th September 2015, and introduces the special issue on “Learning and Creativity in Citizen Science”. As the final event of a 3-year EU FP7 CCL project, the Summit sought to disseminate project results and reflect on the issue of citizen science (CS) as a participatory environment where opportunities for self-development and various types of creativity can arise. A
number of interesting themes emerged at the intersection of the work presented by project collaborators and external partners, including the different types of creativity that are evident in CS, the role of the community as the main medium for innovation and participant learning to occur, and the common challenges concerning the design, initiation and management of CS projects.
The current issue presents work done during the CCL project, as well as external project contributions, for which the main focus is on learning and creativity in CS. The set of articles addresses diverse aspects of the topic, ranging from empirical research on the phenomena themselves, to tools, platforms and frameworks developed specifically for citizen cyberscience (CCS) with creativity and learning in mind, and distinct CS cases where these phenomena manifest in previously undescribed and unexpected ways. We hope that the issue will be useful to researchers and practitioners who aim to study, evaluate
or design for learning and creativity in a range of CCS projects”

You can find the paper here.

 

Opportunistic Citizen Science in central California

iNaturalist MapAs I’ve noted in the earlier post, I’ve travelled through central California in August, from San Francisco, to Los Angeles. Reading Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction‘, made me think about citizen science, but this was my holiday – and for the past 4 years, as I finish setting the email away message, I disable the social media apps and email on my phone, and only use it for navigation, travel apps like TripAdviser, weather, taking images, and searching for the opening times of the local supermarket (more on this in the next post). In addition to the phone, I do use a digital camera with an integrated GPS receiver which somewhat surprisingly, displays a map of the world with data from HERE . As I was travelling along, I wasn’t aiming to take part in any specific citizen science project, just to experience the landscape, and understand the places and people.

Yet, I had several encounters…

DSCN1815 DSCN1822 On t he way back from a visit at Yosemite valley, by coincidence, we decided to stop at a vista point along the road, and as I was getting out of the car, I realised that the sign looks familiar. There was a board with information about the Rim Fire  and the need to protect the forest from tree disease and fire. But one familiar sign, which I’ve seen in photos, and just read about it, was now in front of me. Here’s the description from Hannibal’s ‘Citizen Scientist’:

…A succinct two-and-a-half-minute video explains it here: monitorchange.org.
“The concept uses little more than a camera phone and a stout piece of bent steel to start,” reads the site. Droege figured out that using photo-stitching software and images periodically captured from the same place, he could create a mural of change over time…
DSCN1818Droege’s idea is being put to use by a sui generis citizen science group in the Bay Area, Nerds for Nature. …In their emphasis on improvisation and community the Nerds embody the grassroots spirit of citizen science. Two Nerds projects using Droege’s camera-bracket idea currently underway are both trained on documenting and observing fire recovery … in the Stanislaus National Forest in Yosemite … if you happen to be hiking in either place, here’s what you can do to be a cool Nerd. Find a bracket and take a picture. On Mount Diablo, post it to Twitter using the hashtag #diablofire01. At Yosemite, use the hashtag indicated at each bracket. For example, #firerim01. The Nerds will harvest the photos and “create time-lapse views of change.” The effects of fire on the ecosystem here are imperfectly understood, probably subject to climate change, and of the utmost interest to figuring out the deep truth of the landscape, so you will be doing a good deed.” (p. 348-349)

DSCN1821So I had to take a picture with my camera, as well as a zoomed-in image to see a little bit better how the recovery is happening around the burnt trees. I have tweeted the images (and I hope that the project will prove successful) but only after I’ve went back to use social media. If you follow the hashtag, you’ll see the steady stream of images…

DSCN1814I have also captured many pictures of birds, flowers, and animals that we came across (see the map at the top of the post), from a bird that landed on the side mirror of the car, to Sea Lions we’ve seen on a boat tour to the Channel Islands. Last Friday, I finally organised the pictures and uploaded them to my iNaturalist account. I’m not familiar with the wildlife in California, and I didn’t know that in these three weeks, I’ve seen American Robin, California Scrub-Jay (in the picture), Turkey Vulture, Cottontail Rabbit and much more. A truly amazing experience of uploading the images into iNaturalist is to see, within an hour, identification for most of the species. Not only that, my observations were added to “Wildlife of the Santa Monica Mountains”, “California Birds”, and pleasingly  “2016 National Parks Bioblitz – NPS Servicewide” collections. It all happened very rapidly. It’s odd and pleasing to contribute to citizen science by basically uploading holiday photos.

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The last encounter was planned. Being close to Los Angeles was an opportunity to meet Lila Higgins and her wonderful team at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum who are doing extensive outreach through citizen science. One of the most impressive areas in the museum is the Nature Lab with its wall of invitation to many types of citizen science, and an interactive, continually updated map of observations from iNaturalist in the area of L.A.. The lab is full of exploration areas, each of them inviting the visitors to explore nature through ‘memory maps’ – and in many cases, join citizen science activities such as observing birds, insects, or listening to the sounds at night.

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Birding…
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…Ladybird (Ledybug) observations …
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or audio recording at night

At the time of the visit, two interns were working on classifying flies which were captured in a citizen science project across the city, and their view in the microscope was projected overhead. The live exhibits in the lab are also full of hints and information on how the visitors can join in and contribute to the collection. It was good to see the utilisation of the opportunistic and directed data collection that the museum provides – the synergy of professionals and volunteers which is integral to citizen science. Personally, the visit motivated me to upload my photos to iNat.

On reflection, I can see the potential of opportunistic observations and participation in simple activities such as sharing photos. I did had to prepare the photos before uploading them to iNat, mostly to adjust the time-stamp from UK to California (I forgot to adjust the time at the beginning of the journey), but this was fairly simple and easy. I’m also pleased to micro-contribute to the monitoring and understanding nature in the places that I visited…

Reading ‘Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction’ in place

9781615192434At the beginning of the year, I received an email from Mary Ellen Hannibal, asking for a clarification of the ‘extreme citizen science’ concept. Later on, Mary Ellen provided me with an early copy of ‘Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction‘, and asked if I will be willing to recommend it. I read the first part of the book before travelling to Sci Foo Camp, and was happy to provide a statement (I wouldn’t overstate the value of my endorsement when she received ones from Bill McKibben and Paul Ehrlich).

The part that I read captured my interest, and I finished reading it on the way to Sci Foo and shortly after it. I’ve enjoyed reading it, and at many points I stopped to think and absorb the rich information that Mary Ellen provided within it. At the beginning, I was expecting an account of the personal experience of doing citizen science and understanding its place in the world – much like Sharman Apt Russell ‘Diary of a Citizen Scientist’ (a wonderful book which I highly recommend!). However ‘Citizen Scientist’ is a very different type of book, with a much richer internal ‘ecology’. The book is weaving five themes – the impact of the mass extinction that we are experiencing around us; a very personal account of losing a parent; the history and development of ecological knowledge of coastal California; Joseph Campbell’s literary framework of the ‘hero’s journey’, and the way it can be linked to John Steinbeck and Ed Rickets work around Monterey; and the current practice of citizen science, especially around the Bay Area and coastal California. These themes are complex on their own, and Mary Ellen is doing a great job in exploring each one of them and bringing them into interaction with each other. As I went through the book, each of these was explained clearly from a well researched position, with the experiential aspects of citizen science – including the frustration and challenges – beautifully expressed. As you read through the book, you start to see how these themes come together. It most be said that most of these themes are worrying or raise the notion of loss. Against this background, citizen science plays the role of ‘hope’ at the corner of Pandora’s box – offering a way to connect to nature, nurture it and redevelop a sense of stewardship. A way to preserve the cultural practices of the Amah Mutsun tribe, nature, and a sense of connection to place.

Near Yosemite I felt very lucky that Mary Ellen got in touch and shared the book with me – it was just the right book for me to read at the time. After the Sci Foo Camp, I have stayed in central California for 4 weeks, touring from Mountain View in the Bay Area, to Ripon in Central Valley, to Oak View in Ojai Valley, near Ventura and Los Angeles. Reading the book while travelling through places that are linked to the book gave the visits deeper and richer context and meaning. Many of the encounters throughout journey were linked to the topics that I mentioned above – you don’t need to be any kind of hero to experience these! Some of these encounters include the following.
DSCN1924First was the fascinating session at Sci Foo Camp, in which Tony Barnosky discussed the issue of global tipping points (which are discussed in the book) and their wider implications, with few days later travelling towards Yosemite and experiencing the change in very large landscapes following fires and thinking ‘is this a local ecological tipping point, and the forest won’t come back?’. Then there was a visit to San Francisco Golden Gate Park, and passing by the California Academy of Sciences (Cal Academy, the San Francisco Natural History Museum), whose story is covered in the book. Another reminder of extinction came while travelling down the famous California State Route 1, which was eerily quite and empty of other cars on a weekend day, because of the Soberanes Fire that was devastating the forest nearby (and has not stopped). Or stopping by the Mission in Santa Barbara and thinking about the human and natural history of the coast, or just looking at the kelp on the beach and appreciating it much more…

I’ll try to write more about citizen science and its hopeful aspects later, but as for the book – even if you don’t travel through coastal California, I am happy with what I’ve said about it: ‘an informative, personal, emotional and fascinating account of a personal journey to ecological citizen science. It shows how our understanding of our environment and the need for urgent action to address the mass extinction that is happening in front of our eyes can be addressed through participatory science activities’.

ECSA2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 3

After a busy first  days – Day 1 (morning and afternoon) and Day 2 (morning and afternoon), the third day was dedicated to engagement – through museums, games and story telling; responsibility – through frameworks of responsible research and innovation, proper data handling and making a scientific impact, and finally to active engagement in discussion through a ThinkCamp.

The day opened with a keynote Co-designing research projects: Citizen science meets stakeholder involvement (Heribert Hofer IZW Berlin, Germany) – Exploring stakeholders in citizen science, examples of co-design projects in ecology/conservation science. Looking at impacts on attitudes and behaviours of stakeholders. Challenges and limitations of co-designed projects, but why aren’t more of them?

Stakeholders as citizen scientists – stakeholders are people who are representative of nterest group, and are citizen scientists by definition. The participate through interest in the issue, and they are expert from some kind – the interests that they represent. The example is conflicts of interest in conservation – say lead poisoning of eagles – but there are many stakeholders – hunters, reserves etc. Participations can be collecting data, cooperation, implementation of own ideas – co-design. If you want to co-design a project, that is essential to ask them before the project start. Example for bushmeat hunting in Tanzania (1991), cheetahs in Namibia (2002) and many more. The Bushmeat hunting in the Serengeti looked at issues such as who, where, how much, why and impacts on many species within a year. Wanted to evaluate the efficacy of the conservation approach. They didn’t look at the species but the hunters and poachers – realising that people move close to the park and identified very large number of poachers – almost 18,000. There are 3.7 hunting trips (1-36) and gained an understanding of the activity. Cheetahs in Namibia because they live in farmland, but then the farmers hunting cheetahs as sport. They looked how many cheetahs are there, and that require access to many private farms. Involved farmers in the radio-collaring of cheetah so they are involved in the process. Involving farmers does create a challenge – need to have communication. Through working with farmers, they managed to move the cattle to match cheetahs movement. They turned farmers as partners. There are clear advantages – learning about cheetah mean that attitudes change and trapping cheetahs only to tag them. In egg collection project, they manage to social control. For the lead poisoning, there is a need to teach people to use lead-free alternatives for hunting.

Stakeholder participation solves many challenges. Recruitment
, rewards, data and getting the data in the first place. The stakeholders approach require systematic recruitment, understanding interests and understand biases. The challenges: developing social skills, flexibility, patience, and sales mentality of convincing people to join you – communicating with not necessarily friendly audience. Need to answer critical questioning on project aims and methods – it’s tough. Limitations – lack of training on how to learn by doing and picking up people with appropriate attitude. Also how to deal with stakeholders refusal to participate, and dealing with biased data – the data is interest driven not by the seeking the truth. Why aren’t more co-designed projects? First, scientists are driven by ivory tower mentality – make society relevant research worthwhile. Secondly, solving societal issues is less valuable than the academic agenda -because of the reward system in academia (need to change indicators of excellence). There is also lack of knowledge and confidence, which can be solved by training. There are also low expectation – attitude of arrogance. There is also no-time/money for the early studies. There are some challenging projects on the offing: for example TB in refugees – there are many medical profession, and including people to which questions that can be done. This bring the problem of scientists concern about loss of control. Co-design can lead to attitudes and behaviour change of stakeholders. There are limitations – scientists need further qualifications.

wp-1463894682861.jpgCitizen Science and the role of museums facilitated by: Zen Makuch & Poppy Lakeman-Fraser. The panel represent the natural history museums in important countries – and they can think of the many people that visit the museums.
Johannes Vogel Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany. Natural History museum and the public – this is the result of the work Sloane and he open this collection to the nation – this is something for everyone, this led to the British Museum, which evolved in the NHM in London. For 200-300 years, museums are about giving access to the public. When museums employ more professional, mean that there is a global scientific infrastructure, with curators focusing on research. With citizen science, we can revert back to a model of re-opening the museum to the public. An NHM can have 30,000 people contributing  to its collection – 550,000 visitors, place where people love to see science in action. They came out of citizen science and should include it more.

Gregoire Lois, Natural History Museum Paris, Museum are based on academic collaboration – the collection are from non-professional (which can be experts) and professionals. Moving from arrogance and snootiness towards non-professional researchers, to higher engagement and focus on that – the civic science agenda in France was not accepted by other scientists. Because citizen science cross-cut the missions of the museum there is more acceptance, but there is more work to do. The museum created ‘museum approved’ citizen science – but that have a risk of new ivory tower, so it is better to have evolutionary approach – so that is why they don’t apply labels. Citizen science have costs, and they have support from the ministry of environment, but not from research and education – no recognition to citizen science, they prefer to wait. They are starting to have bottom-up approach.
Wolfgang Wägele Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig Bonn, Germany.  Experience in taxonomy, there is little potential of biodiversity research in Germany – they actually looking for citizen taxonomists in the country, they are usually organised in small associations and organisations. The organised science doesn’t have ability. They created a German bar-code of life project that is used to support small societies and 250 experts that are volunteers. It was challenging to engage – there was fear of replacing expertise, but what they explain is to make identification of species – but this doesn’t replace local expertise. There was also issue of exploitation – of who get the credit. They developed a reward system – paying for specimens that are given by the participants, they also teach participants how to use new tools that small societies don’t have access to. Citizen science which combines traditional way of identification with molecular approach. They also organised permit to search in national parks, which they wouldn’t

wp-1463894697068.jpgAndrea Sforzi (Natural History Museum Maremma, Italy) Small museum role in citizen science. He is leading a small museum, starting in 2011, but now it is one of the main activities – MNHM doing bio-blitz activities to engage people in the museum. They do recording, bio-blitzes, training courses for citizens and national survey. They produced maps, scientific papers and maps. For small museum, there is good local knowledge and contacts locally. The weaknesses are lack of funds and personnel, networking sometimes

John Tweddle (The Natural History Museum London, UK). The London NHM – 5 million visitors a year. They are going through the cultural transformation that Johanes mentioned, and making citizen science central to the mission. They have support to observers, mass participation, online crowdsourcing, enabling projects and how to encourage more citizen science activities through the galleries and activities – turning the NHM to a gateway to science. Why do that? Funding is very tough. It generate high impact science, deepening engagement with the science and collection – turning from passive to active, enabling engagement with science outside the museum, and help people to connect with nature. Finally, this helps in advocacy and funding.

Discussion: Poppy: what is the future – key strategies for NHMs. John – advocacy for citizen science, and making it acceptance. Johanes – in university or research insitute – you do science and teach, while museum are there to do science and communicate, which scientists are not experience with. Andrea – museum can play a role within their own space – exhibitions about citizen science, engaging people from within the museum. Wolfgang – the participants don’t like to be called amateurs but they are experts. These societies are ageing and they have an opportunity to recruit younger members instead of members that are 40-50, male. They don’t have enough experts in the museum itself. Gregorie – need to have large varieties.

Audience – are there project in which citizen scientists involved in designing exhibitions? Joahnes – in Berlin they done project with Pandas, in the last 30 days of the exhibition, they had an empty a cabinet, and ask  people to bring their objects on people’s memory of Pandas. Difficult to do the whole lengthy process of two years. John – designing exhibition properly it is a lengthy process and see which bit should include whom. Wolfgang – they provide specific space for citizen photographers and that works well.

Audience – contacts with eastern European museums and initiatives? Johaness – in EU BON Tallinn is leading on citizen science, and there are European projects about it.

Audience -what about campaigning citizen science? Georgie – offering resources, opening data. Museum are politically neutral and there are debates about getting engaged politically, but should stay apolitical.

A separate blog post will cover the ThinkCamp challenge that I’ve led on collaborative writing

Plenary Final Discussion
Farewell by Johannes Vogel – working at EU level will be the big job in the near future. What the big things should be? confusion, getting science funding to grassroots groups. Heard too little from the scientists and would like to see more of this. How people reach this conference? I only heard about it through YouTube channel. There is space for self reflection on what we’re doing, citizen science studies. Think of migration and citizen scientists on the move. great for ECSA to support early career post-docs – list of jobs that will be available. Thanking the organisers – the richness of discussion was excellent.

ThinkCamp people – Margaret filmed the discussion for long show and tell that will be share on ‘citizens of science’ YouTube channel – things that came out: inclusiveness challenge: stipends for those who lack funding, helping grassroots, subject matter networks, co-creating events to see events that the want. WeCureALZ – large legible sans-serif fonts, large images – concept of tree that slowly grow. Communities of Europe – the CSA has a group that is doing such an effort. In the EC there was a conversation and they happy to support it. Search by nature of the citizen science, and the domain of science. Collaborative Writing – ideas of projects with an action plan. Museum data visualisation challenge – taking it out: why maps? what will be the best communications – using the visual design. Medium like d3 were considered.  The camera trap challenge – thinking about simpler driver than Raspberry-Pi.

 

Marisa – the games session: need to ensure enjoyable games and rigour of science, complex games can turn to fun: from gemification to workification. Leaderboards can be hidden because of the humanitarian nature of the project. Monique – six excellent story tellers – change, communication, translation and visualisation. Ian – For the session on scientific impacts: land use, land cover and atmospheric measurements – there is promise but there are challenge with the sensors. There are saving: calibration and validation. Kathrine – learning and citizen science: looking at science identity, plenty of tweets. Citizen science need to use different learning models for evaluation. Active approaches develop learning best.

Many responses about what citizen science mean: citizen not an idea – it’s the future.

We have many new members from the conference, and hope that people will stay in the association. New working groups, we are welcoming more groups and increasing in our impact.

The conference was followed by the citizen science festival –

ECSA 2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 2 (Afternoon)

The afternoon started with a packed session that focused on Citizen science Studies – Engaging with the participatory turn in the co-production of science and society Elevator talks & interactive session organised by Dana Mahr (University of Geneva); Anett Richter (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ); Claudia Göbel (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | ECSA); Alan Irwin (Copenhagen Business School); Katrin Vohland (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | GEWISS); Sascha Friesike (Alexander von Humboldt University Berlin) (the morning notes are here)

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Dana – astonishment as a starting point: the six organisers – astonished by the scale of interest of public participation in science, which is different from Public Understanding of Science (PUS) in the 1980s or science for the people in the 1970s. There are multiple interpretation – from methods to contract between science and society 2.0. It is adapted to many areas of knowing – though it is happening across the Western world, from physics to patient interests. There are modes of participation and reflecting on epistemology, social history, either as actors or as critical sociologists, and studies of science. Why do we reflect on citizen science – do we have citizen science studies? They received 50 proposals. Finally they decided to have short presentations: the many papers in the session were broken to two sets of lightning talks – 5 minutes talk: who you are what you are working on, and what your interests. We need to organise people very well. The account here, therefore is only of one half of the session (so even in one session you can’t have the full experience!)

Citizen Humanities: Configuring Interpretation and Perception for Participation (Dick Kasperowski, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) Part of a project taking science to the crowd – understanding how the participants are being constructed. Several citizen humanities – like Zooniverse and elsewhere, usually link to interpretation, assuming that it is constructed through a long training and contextual knowledge. The participants are seen as annotators, transcribers – low-level of skills, they are being limited to automation. Project avoid inclusion. Focusing on perceptional quality of participants. Maybe turning participants and humanities into quantification.

Are the rhetorics of citizen science prohibiting detailed accounts of its own practice? (Christian Nold UCL, UK). Worked in an EU project and try to follow the devices of citizen science, and we don’t look at the technologies of citizen science. As a designer & artist look at the sensing devices in different way. Air quality, noise monitoring – the project are part of bigger agendas – actually link to IoT and there is something interesting that is doing much more things that it what is measured and why. When we take them to specific context (e.g. Heathrow) the gain specific agency ,they are redesigned constantly. There are implication to citizen science: if it is a design practice, we will end up with different outcomes, and valuation – being reflective practitioner about the whole thing: what does it mean to care for an app. There are ontological aspects – how they are built into the devices: new type of environmentalism.

The (Citizen-)Scientification of Society and the Pleasures of Research. Citizen Science as Science Communication (Sascha Dickel TU München, Germany). Sociological STS research – leader of a project on citizen science. He suggest the following hypotheses – citizen science is part of the scientification of society. Science as institution, culture, expand to many areas. This is education, mass media. Second hypothesis: citizen science is scientification by participation. Assume that the public take part in scientific research – there are incentives for professional people, but there are different motivations. Discourse frame the incentive to participation. Citizen science discourse is framed as meaningful leisure. Linking it to concept of deeper meaning – civic participation and fun. Citizen science expand research to private sphere and reinforcing science as an institution. But is it good or bad to progress with scientification of society? Why not do that? This was a point of discussion that raised interest in the audience.

Participatory turn’s legacy and the European ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ emerging framework (Hadrian Macq University of Liege, Belgium). Hadrian is enthusiastic about citizen science, but as a PhD student who need to be reflective, he explores the normative aspects of citizen science in Horizon 2020 – the specific aspects that it is developing: public understand of science, public engagement and responsible research and innovation. They were criticised in the literature and there is a risk of closing down research. His research plans are to explore the political and economic context of citizen science at the EC. Research and innovation are reoriented towards economic growth to tackle societal problems. There is concern about engagement fatigue and assumption that research and innovation is driven by industry and academia, and sometime citizen science can be seen instrumentally by the commission.

wp-1463751452653.jpgCreating Communicative Spaces that nurture inquiry, reflection, and dialogue in citizen science (Cindy Regalado Univ. College London, UK); Zooming to the local level – looking both as community organiser in Public Lab: grassroots organisation, with following principles: engaging people as researchers; pull complexity off the shelf; built in openness into science as a social process – e.g. through kite mapping; collaborative workflows – either on the website with research notes, maintaining a data archive and face to face; protecting openness with viral licensing and celebrating local innovation. As a researcher, want to point 3 things: notice Arnstein about the real power to change the process, decontextualisation of success stories – as some of the discussion in the book The Participatory City shows.

Who are the citizens in citizen science? Public participation in distributed computing (Bruno Strasser University of Geneva, Switzerland) Bruno explores the citizens and citizen science. There are a whole range of practices that are called citizen science – but it changing the exclusion of amateurs participation in production of scientific knowledge after an era of lack of participation. They will look at India, China, Europe, and US. They will look at medical, DIY science, crowdsourcing. They will look at the discourse and the ideas about parts of science – they will also look at current and past phenomena and current ones – aiming to have biographies for 1m people who participate in citizen science. What is the political and social economy of citizen science? What is the kind of knowledge that is being produced?

Openness in biohacking: expertise and citizen science (Rosen Bogdanov Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain). Researching biohacking and practices of openness in biohacking groups. There are issues of scientific expertise and there is less talk about that in citizen science. There are different types of expertise – interactional expertise, universal expertise – available everywhere. There are issues of keeping the relationships between types of expertise neatly separate. There is lack of scientific citizens. There are different practices of inclusion and exclusion within the community of biohackers.

Dingdingdong. Interferences with the Natural History of a Disease (Katrin Solhdju Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium).  Historian/philosopher of science with interest in medial – part of Dingdingdong disease about Huntington disease. They address current imagination of the disease and defining as only tragic and prescribe the self-fulfilling prophecy of how it is experienced. They are trying to consider a better environment for the people who are involved – history of the disease, speculative narration, dance and choreography and more.

Observing the observer: Citizen Social Science and the Participatory Turn (Alexandra Albert University of Manchester, UK). trying to understand citizen social science, in social citizen science is more than usual participation and they are observe and analyse their information – beyond the usual practices of social science. Looking specifically at the mass observation archive, trying to understand the ethnographic methods – anthropology at home, which include observation and reporting. The mass observation archive brings questions about expertise, and what they view it at, and what the observers though that they can be involved as researchers. This is done within sociology. Hope to lead to interesting observation on the potential of citizen social science. She will follow several case studies, which are about critiquing the method.

What can Citizen Science learn from participatory research? (Tobias Krüger, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany). From a cross faculty institute that look at human-environment relations. looking at participatory research – we can learn a lot from integrating literature. Build decision support tools for water quality, and done the model in a participatory way. Citizen science has the potential of setting what science will be done, and control over knowledge production. There are politics of citizen science engagement – who fund, who can hijack projects, and that lead to who’s knowledge count in the end.

Day summary

Summarising the day is challenging – 8 different sessions with different topics. Some of the reporting back include – John Tweddle – there are clear wp-1463753197409.jpgconservation impacts of citizen science: showing different approaches – from community led to university led to global databases. There are different ways, lots of different outcomes. Complex pathways. Observations – is citizen science support outcomes? evaluating is difficult but can be powerful demonstration. . Balancing highlighting the community led and working with local communities . Trying to balance autonomy with the need to have large datasets. Max Craglia – about technology: a lot of applications across many aspects – many were funded by EU data. All the data and software were open. Moving towards open source and data – starting to have critical studies of citizen science. Exploring the light pollution – there are issues that were above – issues were noted above about light studies. Session 8 – Alena Bartonova – wp-1463753211888.jpgthe topics that were looking at air quality, noise, quality of public spaces. and engagement, looking at the social aspect. Thinking about empowerment. In air pollution there are many tools and information that is available, but in each project they are forgotten and there isn’t continuity of use and application. There are technologies and users but there are problems in doing it together – lack of co-design. Lucy Robinson – The session on innovative science looked at mosquitoes, molecular bio, crowdsourcing research question of mental health. Issues of evaluation came up. Failure is equally important as success. Session on participatory social innovation – looked at the connection of digital social innovation and citizen science. Identifying difference – need to solve new societal challenges. Shared lessons and challenges: structure engagement, levels of participation, motivation. Need to think of actionable policy recommendation. Never just a question of providing participation and motivation, but also dealing with conflicting practices and values. Alan Irwin – looking at the participatory turn: there were many papers on critical studies of citizen science. Connecting up research community with practitioners – there are many reflective practitioners. Lots of cross over. Need to maintain space for the groups to get together. Balance of discussion on the nature of citizen science and scientification of society – which led to a lively discussion. What are the politics, what the modes of citizenship? Not all citizen science is good automatically and maintain these critical question. Education – specifically about schools and starting a new working group at ECSA, look at the specific needs.

ECSA GA: ECSA grow significantly since January with a lot of individual members after the conference. There is a new website, which you can get a preview, and it will be launched soon – we see the map of citizen science actors in Europe. Katrin suggested the strategy and plan for 2016/2017. The aim is to strengthen the ECSA community, and do that through the use of new websites and activities – maps that increase visibility, and empower local hubs and expertise. Starting to develop policy papers and having transparent governance structure, but now working on internal procedures. Aiming to make ECSA more integrative. The working groups are evolving – aim to appoint an internal community manager, improve external communication, make ECSA more independent from the Museum. The COST action on citizen science will assist in promoting citizen science activities across Europe. ECSA participate in DITOs and LandSense which will help in establishing ECSA well. The working groups are developing, but we need to identify more people who will progress on the best practice area – we start collating best practice guides. ECSA got guidelines for participating in European calls. New policy position papers: citizen science as part of EU policy delivery – looking at EU directive. The white paper on citizen science for Europe and EU wide citizen science programmes.

Following the AGM, we had a series of lightning talks as an opening to the think camp – the talks mixed participants in the Berlin science hacking community and people who came to the conference – and finally we experienced the Citizen Science Disco. I’ve welcomed this session with the demonstration, through the work of Leni Diner-Dotan on the Citizen Cyberscience nightmare wall that new and radical participation is possible in citizen science conferences.

Lucy Peterson explains the idea of hacking and science hackathons

Following this, Johann Bauerfeind describe the experience of the Berlin iGEM team

Byrke Lou, an artist who works on issues of science and the environment was next:

Cindy Regalado then describe the work of public lab

Kat Austen closed the lightning talks with chemistry hacking

The last part included a short intro to the ThinkCamp

ECSA2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 2 (Morning)

wp-1463763323886.jpgAfter the opening day (see morning and afternoon posts) and the reception under the dinosaur at the museum, the second day started with an introduction and review of day 1 by Marisa Ponti (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): We want to reconnect to the first day. Particularly happy to hear the connection at the European Commission (EC) level about the link of citizen science and open science. Indicators for success, and digital and other aspects of inequality were address. Today we have 3 keynotes, and that is followed by two four parallel sessions.

The keynotes were facilitated by Susanne Hecker (UFZ | iDiv, Germany) – we have several celebrations – including the birthday of the conference chair, and the success of conference with many participants.

Citizen science – innovation & inspiration for science, Rick Bonney (Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO), USA), Rick has been working in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for 42 years, and he started many citizen science projects in the lab. The end outcome for his work are projects like eBird which receives 18,000 checklists a day – eBird can provide specific location and see what was happening and you can report opportunistic or systematic effort. You can report what you’ve seen – the list is automatically checked, and the filters that decide which list you can see is operated by many volunteer editors. This helps in managing the quality of the data – since 2002 they had 300K users, 250mil observations – 98.5% world’s species.  Because the checklist is smart, it is telling us if we recorded everything that you’ve seen or not, this provided the data for statisticians that can do the STEM model for distribution of species. They can see the routes of travel and discover routes of migration – e.g. over the ocean – which was not known to ornithologists before the data was available. Lots of papers are coming out, including about climate change impact. There is also analysis to support the location of creating wetlands to support migratory birds. The data is open and allow people to use it for many purposes. There are also survey of people who use the data – from law and policy, habitat protection and site and habitat management.

There is evidence for effective conservation. The eBird data is used for the state of bird population and ways of exploring the data – it is being used for education with a range of lesson plans. There is also an effort to increase cultural diversity of participants. CLO was one of the first organisations that include citizen science in its mission. This links to the history of the lab that was always working with volunteers observers, since it was founded by Arthur Allen.

Here it gets personal: Rick’s dad encourage him to be interested in birds and the environment, and he done analysis of Christmas Bird Count – he done diary of birds, and he managed to discover things that other people didn’t know. He joined the lab in 1972, and that led to analysis of Christmas Bird Count. After graduation he worked as Volkswagen mechanic and other jobs, and started working on the Living Bird magazine and found many things about the nest watch study. They started noticing impacts on citizen science. They developed different programme – e.g. FeederWatch that allow people to learn about the birds in addition to the data collection. So they have developed programmes – from Nest Record Card in 1965 to eBird in 2002. Citizen Science allow to track infectious disease, understand forest fragmentation impact that led to guides to forest manager. There were many other people doing work with citizen science – the number of peer review publications are appearing. Theobald et al. 2015 show that citizen science is contributing to many areas – many people, high financial value, and many peer review paper. The important aspects are: design and evaluate effectively, ‘own’ citizen science, diversity and inclusion and collaborate. there are different guides for citizen science and tool-kits.wp-1463763362078.jpg There are different terms that are being used – civic science, volunteer monitoring, traditional knowledge – but the concept is being recognised and it get traction – we need to own and embrace the term. Without a common term, it is impossible to quantify the impacts. The third point is diversity & inclusion – many community know things that we don’t know. The is an importance in collaboration – Finn Danielsen 2013 show that many indicators for international treaties can be done through citizen science. Rick hope to develop an eFish project next.

10 Principles of Citizen Science (Lucy Robinson – The Natural History Museum London, UK). The term Citizen Science was not used in the UK in the past but gain acceptance – she described the Natural History Museum, and through the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme they secured commitments from management and it is central to their work. They have different project through different means – about 10 projects.

wp-1463763376254.jpgThe ECSA working group on best practice have developed the 10 principles which was an internal deliberative process. We were able to create them, and share them. Why are they needed? the term citizen science became a buzz word, and it create many opportunities, but also require challenges to agree on common concept and not use ‘we should’ – we don’t want standards – we want it as a flexible concepts which can be applied in diverse situations and disciplines – but we do want to have good practice. The principles are for inspiration, support, principle of good practice. She then gone through the 10 principles: The first principle is actively involve citizens, and there are many photos of people involve locally and the principle usually met. Second, we want to have real science, as Rick demonstrated – many peer reviews publications, but this is not the only output: from identifying pollution and acting on it, or other similar things. Third, thinking about who benefits – need to be mutually beneficial. Many benefits are varies and different between actors – we need to evaluate these impacts – but this is squeezed many times. wp-1463763396794.jpgThe #WhyICitSci during the Citizen Science Association conference in 2015 demonstrated the benefits for practitioners. Four, there are smaller scale projects that allow people to engage in multiple stages of the process if they wish to. Fifth, we need to ensure feedback – it’s motivate people, feedback can be newsletter, maps, emails but personalised feedback is important – and can we be more creative. For example in LA they carry out meetups. Sixth, it is about understanding it as a research approach, and the data quality issue of citizen science is addressed – are we do in it enough to address the concerns. Need to remember that it is a research method. We don’t need perfect – high-quality data. We also need it fit for purpose. Seventh, need to make data and metadata open – in practice, this doesn’t happen for many reasons. Eights – we need to acknowledge the citizen science in project results and publications – in one case a project listed 37,000 co-authors (with only 10 professional scientists). Ninth, evaluating citizen science for their outcomes – this is something that can be squeezed out – evaluation require careful thinking what was the purpose of the project. Need to think in advanced about what success mean. Finally, considering ethical and legal considerations of the activity. The principles are translated to many languages – in 17 languages and 3 more in preparation. There are now news guides for citizen science. We are now an international committee – we have 300 people in the room who are presenting thousands of citizen science projects. What should be the eleventh principle?

My talk, Participatory Citizen Science, is available in a separate blog post. 

Some of the reaction on twitter:

Of the four parallel sessions that were on offer, I followed:

Worldwide citizen science initiatives on light pollution –  organised by Franz Hölker & Sibylle Schroer (IGB Berlin, Germany )- usually, life for millions of years was dark, but humans started to illuminate the night, and many species are not ready for it. There are good reasons for the lighting of the night but aalso problems. The area of research into light pollution is an interdisciplinary area, and we need to explore it from different perspectives.

How reliable is data produced by citizen scientists? (Chris Kyba – GFZ Potsdam, Germany). Chris discussed reliability – scientists are specific about calibration and acceptance of tools – e.g. Sky Quality Meter is called ‘Kindergarten toy’. Citizen science is ‘gimmick’ to get proposals funded – but that is not true any more. The disappearance of stars in the sky you can tell how much light there is. We are daytime active animals – satellite are no sensitive to blue light from LEDs, so satellites can’t capture all lights. The Globe at Night is being used around the world, and there is a paper Kyba et al. (Sci Rep 2013) – there is good correlation, but data is broad. The app guide you to look at specific area of the Sky – there is relationship between number of observations and the agreement with the data – more observations make people more confident. Data is quantitative and there is a method to check for accuracy. There are environmental variability (humidity, dust) there is also shot-to-shot variation and person-to-person variation. Trying to solve it through community experiments, and flashmob for science, and do repeated observation one after the other. With MyGeoss, they created a portal to give it to scientists and allow people to understand trend analysis from different projects.

Cities at Night: ISS pictures to trace the environmental impact the light pollution
Alejandro Sanches Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. There are impacts of light pollution. There is an ESA mission specific to without calibration – these are the ISS pictures by astronauts. There are tools like DMSP/OLS, VIIRS/DNS but they don’t have proper reolution as the ISS/D3S/RGS is in better resolution and ability – (Aube 2013 Plos one 8(7) e67798). There are simulations of change for Montreal for the changes in lighting – so can see impacts from increase from 160% to 44% according to different illumination techniques. There are also maps of specific places – e.g. Milan, Berlin (noticing the two parts)

From an interdisciplinary science community to citizen science (Sibylle Schroer IGB Berlin, Germany). She looked  at Carbon Sinks – ocean, forests and crop-land – there are impacts from cows and animals. There are significant impacts from agriculture – but what about lakes, light and GHG? Inland waters are active in global C cycle – one fifth of emissions are coming from inland water. There are anthropogenic drivers that increase temperature, carbon input, nutrients – but what about night-light? They done lab experiment and the artificial light at night influence Diatoms – shift in metabolism. This allow to calculate the impact of the 2.4% land area in Germany that covered by water – outside the lab what is going on. So the only way to do it is through citizen science, and evaluate the impact of artificial light – impact of village of agriculture activities – very complex package. Creating sampling package and options of recording by app or questionnaire, and then send it off.

wp-1463763538483.jpgCrime Scene German Inland Waters: On the Track of CO2 K(atja Felsmann IGB Berlin, Germany). River areas are important as explained in the previous talk. There was a specific COST Action LoNNe which run 2012 – 2016.She was involved in research that took information from 635 sites – 192 streams, 609 questionnaire about night-time. Satellite data is only about light that go upward, not the blue spectrum. There are very good observations – with qualitative comments that help to understand the impact of light situation. At the COST Action ES1204 include people from many areas – there is a small community from in stars4all they try to reach out to many more people – citizen sensing and gamification – there are many initiatives and the question is about creating self-sustained networks and challenges of communication.

wp-1463763433804.jpgWorld Café:  1 round of discussion instead of moving between tables. There are three hosts: potential and limits of CS for research; skills needed to create self-sustainable platform. – EU project STARS4All is relevant here.

The idea is to sustained the network over time. Maybe similar lessons from Moon watch project in the 1950s. In the water project, participants  that they will give them information about the water quality, they didn’t realise that it is about what the researcher learn. Another reason for success is a very good communication – the reason for continuing funding is not the good science, but because of the science – log with owl. Misconception of getting the data – is local impact. Motivation – in Alzheimer research UK they had a very successful game, but need to understand motivation of doing a game for the game, or is it about the motivation to help science. There are ways to encourage people to do more through competition but should be careful about the unintended competition. Interest in the results and personal aspects – need to identity. In Galaxy Zoo – this can be even volunteers that help other volunteers. There is scalability challenge of dealing with more and more volunteers. The most important words : motivations , cooperation.

In terms of quality – is to improve it from the start through training. Selecting people according to skills – send people as control to try to see if you get bias. There are issues of funding to get project going over time. Having a lecture, and then do the activity.