European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) 2018 Conference – day 2: Beyond the deficit model, inclusiveness, libraries, and

The second and last day of the conference (day 1 is covered here) started early, with a keynote: “Science society continuum: From ‘deficit model’ to social demand on research – the reform of science in progress” Lionel Larqué, FR – [physicist and head the collaboration of education, civil society organisations, and science. Influenced partnerships between science and society on non-deficit model of science.] The organisation ALLISS was set in 2012 – to address Science & Society Continuum. There is a book on “sciences participatives” and it is in French and aimed at the local community. Speak from the French perspective, the founders of the institution that he runs – 1800 members (institutions) and 15-20 years of cooperation. Science-society concepts: seeing it as good answers for the wrong questions, at the background of the public policy – what we can and can’t do. Science/society came from institutions – a structural bias, it came from scientific and European institutions – the reason to start it. It starts with wrong and incomplete data, ideas from the 1970s and 1980s about mistrust of citizens in science. What is the reality of current public view on science is unknown, we don’t know if the questions were well written. The policy was based on scientific prejudice, and assumptions about public mistrust in science – but generally, from 1972 to today, in France 78%-85% people have trust in the knowledge from science (without linking to technology or how science run). There is no strong data that will show the strong mistrust and mix criticism with mistrust. The French science academy is full of non-rational scientists who feed the discourse of public mistrust. A lot of bad reasons for creating agnotological public debate – some scientists want to instrumentalise the public debate. by saying that there is a mistrust, then you can rely on deficit model and ignore the public and that is useful. It also seems obvious to claim that it is obvious, as all institutions face mistrust – politics, media, law and order, and therefore assume that science is also getting it. The pressure on scientists is getting higher and the scientific community is suffering from the pressure – political power, social actors, finance. Scientific institutions are the last trusted institutions and ask to answer all the questions, and the scientists feel pressured by these demands and they see that as a problem that they want people to leave them to their own actions. There is a vicious cycle of address the deficit model because. ALLISS put forward the idea that we need to ask the new question. We need to face institutional walls – they don’t want to accept that society at large is way more educated and therefore scientific institutions need to change. ALLISS tries to figure out the institutional challenge.

The French situation: high level of trust from the public towards science, but criticism towards the institutions. There is a large scale cooperation between civil society organisations and scientific organisations (CNRS, INRS…). The number is very high, but the institutions are not looking at it in their strategic plans – cooperation developed despite institutional policies. In 2001-2009, the World Social Forum, from 8500 workshops, only 70 talked about science and technology. For a lot of social actors, science is outside the frame and in 2007 launched the “science and democracy world forum” – can we share a common view about it? The workshops show that dialogue was not the issue, but what can we change the context – what can you do to change partnerships. Need to change something: policy, concept, etc. . A mass of initiatives won’t be enough to change policy. The barrier of science institutions is a big barrier and it hasn’t changed from the 1970s to today. The main tradition of science is a problem for citizen science – it is put in a box and put into a specific space so it won’t change the bigger institutions. Citizen science dynamics is one that allows us to change things: we need to understand where we came from – design of research and science policies – the key design was for making Europe stronger, rebuilt, and link science and industry. Now there are local actors, local groups, and the science-policy doesn’t have tools that allow that – a non-industrial research policy focused on society is needed. Scientific institutions we have a wider policy alliance. Are the people that work in museums, institutions. Things won’t change the way we want them – they don’t have a sequential process, e.g. feminism impact in scientific study and what helped: bicycle, war, and image in the mass media in the 1960s of women in the media. Changes are not rational, but even when the forces are strong we need both the cumulative experience and the politics. Open science initiative might help us, maybe close to the SDG initiatives and we can explore them through research. We observe that the sociology of citizen science is that a lot of citizen science is coming from institutions that propagate the deficit model and we need to play both with these institutions and the cost are very high. We need to be clear that we need a change, we understand what we can change and what can’t be changed. The Shock Doctrine is something that we need to be aware of it – think outside ourselves. ALLISS and ECSA need to be ready.

Workshop “Empowerment, inclusiveness & equity in community-based research and CS”

Claudia Göbel, Michael Jorganson , ECSA (DE). Notes on and there are issues at Michael: CBR – civil society have issues that need to be addressed by authorities but this need to be documented, There is also need for the development of new knowledge or new proposals (e.g. urban agriculture). Empowerment – knowledge might empower – but not enough, there is also translations and alliances to make it effective. There are sometimes need to figure out new methods in the institution and in society. Working deliberately with empowerment. Claudia – looked at the Soleri 2016: empowerment – capacity to make a change. The terminology can be about equity and inclusiveness. It’s about who is participating, and it builds on conversations that evolve from the CSA conference but also ECSA conference in 2016, workshops in Living Knowledge conference, policy roundtables. From the living knowledge conference, there are different ideas about research, especially different epistemologies of science “distant vs engaged research. The idea of a working ground on empowerment and some activities that a group can do.


Barbara Kieselnger – ideas of citizen social science – building on participatory action research, data activism, action research – but we now combine it with other sources. Done a classification of citizen science projects. Different projects that engage citizens, for example, a project in Barcelona and using an existing of environmental activists and political and street actions. Want to understand ozone pollution. The Careables – it’s a project which involves people with physical limitation and maker communication, sharing the co-design openly.

Balint Balazs – pointing about the silence of citizen science in central Europe (same issues at the UCL workshop on Geographical Cit Sci). Making invisible project visibility. Thinking of citizen social science. Aspects of empowerment: autonomy, competence, belonging, impact, meaning, resilience – need to think how they work.

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou– question the notion of inclusiveness: e.g. a transgender friend that ask about having us as a bigger group to colour a project. Adding a symbolic inclusiveness. In order to put in evidence the power of community – a summit in Ghana on the AfricaOSH – a big conversation about making/ hacking/bio-hacking and to bring together as a community what is the open science mean to us.

Muki Haklay – I’ve focused on passive and assertive inclusiveness, the need for a more nuanced view of participation as we have societal benefits from highly educated people, and the problem of methodological individualism in the analysis of empowerment and inclusion. Call for also a realistic understanding of resources – the more inclusive you are, the more expensive the process of including them is – e.g. the need to morally justify the intelligent maps effort, where each engagement in very expensive.

Libby Hepburn covered the issue of the global initiative of citizen science, which is providing an opportunity for different organisations and programmes to collaborate and the potential of leveraging the SDG to address societal challenges, demonstrate the needs for citizen science applications and use.

The session’s discussion turned to different aspects of inclusiveness and the creation of an ECSA working group.

Speed Talks “Citizen Engagement”

Nina James, University of South Australia (AUS): Strangers, Stewards and Newcomers in CS identities of those that participate – looked at 9 contributory project, 900 participants, and 1400 non-participants. It is very diverse fields – motivated by different things, she found in conservation 49-69 female mostly (70%). Different from non-participants. highly educated, sense of connection to the environment. First identity is environmental stewards – connected to nature, strong awareness, also actively politically engage, and participate in more than one projects. Science enthusiasts – participate in other cit sci, interested in science, interested in technology and confident about it, and less politically active. Also included in a project that there are introverts and extroverts (a project in a museum and also online). The men are topic oriented, motivated in science and technology, and in the outback in the fireballs in the sky that includes 77% men. There are newcomers – motivated by the topic. Millenials are in small percentage. The strangers are haven’t participated in citizen science – less politically engaged, lower education, too many conflicting interests. People are participating in different projects. The participation of female (70%) is an issue – result of an online survey.

Cat Stylinski, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (US): Embedded Assessment of Skills in CS. Embedded assessment in citizen science – provides an introduction. Volunteers need to develop skills in citizen science to participate, and this is important to upheld scientific standards. Need to identify the skills, train support, then assess the skills and then a need to think how this work. Assessment includes formal tests, informal observations, and data validation. Embedded assessment is done as people involved in the project – so giving an activity and then developing a rubric to compare what people did. Embedded assessment try to streamline the process – data validation is usually focusing on science variable, and instead of looking at the volunteers and how they learn the approach. Figuring out a new way to integrate the assessment with project’s process.

Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust (UK): Engaging older citizen scientists in the digital era. A painful case study of moving people to a new website – working on woods and working with many volunteers in Nature Calendar – many recorders are over 60 and even 80. Important contributors to phenology. They wanted to move the website to a new system because of the technological change – but some people used the website for 10 years. Consulted with the scientific users of the data on improvements – better location information, ask the number of visits, and improving data about participants. Used persona for the design process. Overall the participants struggle much more than expected. Registration through verification links in email and needed to assist in copy and paste, and need to use an alphanumeric password. They haven’t read the website and couldn’t understand why there was a need to add a security information. The manipulation of mapping (survey123 style of moving the map) was confusing. Don’t do change – there was once a decade to do a change and plan support, expect more staff resources to make it happen, and they needed the support. They talked with 20 interviews and the development team explore the issue with infrequent users, That why they thought that everything is ready. Continue to run a paper-based system. They’ve lost some of the people in the transition, and don’t have the ability to provide an app, yet – it’s planned.

Karsten Elmose Vad, The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen (DK): What motivates families to do CS? evaluation of the Ant Hunt (mentioned in the previous post) – an experiment of food preferences of ants. Take several hours, capturing ant, and sending them. They focused on families with children 6-13, Denmark doesn’t have an after-school science. Put the researcher on video and she wrote back to participants. got 356 experiments, 260 users, 24 species and 6000 ants. The evaluation shows that for more people having scientists connected to the project it was the majority, and it was valuable for them to get a response from a scientist which coordinated the project – felts that it provide participation in something big and the opportunity to work with a scientist. Valuable cross-generation activity, open-ended experiment, the scientific method. They didn’t care about the competition.

Gaia Agnello, ECSA (DE): Motivations and perceived benefits predict citizen
scientists´ level of engagement. Used the volunteer function index (clary & snider 1998) the analytical framework for voluntarism. Looking how these factors influence the programme – looking through an online questionnaire. 174 responses – more motivated to nature issues. It is important to understand motivation in relation to engagement. The initial motivation is not driving the level of engagement.

Talks  – “Social Innovation”

Tiberius Ignat et al., Scientific Knowledge Services (DE): Working Together: CS and Research Libraries – presented with Paul Ayres of UCL libraries. The request to talk at the conference is about the role of libraries in support activities especially research library – these are areas of research libraries that are important. They have supported organisation, highly standardised, well connected in a network and work well. They build collections or resources, data and material. The manage the incoming and outgoing of scientific communication with researchers and world leaders of open science and advocates of it – pushing open access and are experienced advocates. They are also open to innovation and work through transformation for all their roles. Fun people, centrally located, and also have a culture of being politeness towards answers. They have 10 major skills: collaboration between libraries, they have communication skills, have a FAIR concept that is integrated into their practices, good in infrastructure and governing it. They have experience in maintaining and curating collections. They have experience in open access, connecting people. They have demonstrated advocacy as a network – open access and fees campaign for example. The confluences are areas of opportunities – skills development, support, collection, FAIR data, infrastructure, evaluation, communication – general skills but also in the recruitment of volunteers, marketing and in advocacy. In 2017 there was a set of presentation on the “Roles for libraries in the Open Science landscape” and done 12 presentations and in 2918 presenting on 2018 “Focus on Open Science”. There is a demand for citizen science in these events. Looking at the OSPP of the EU, citizen science is one of the 8 pillars of open science. There is a consistent line of supporting open science in 2016 in Amsterdam, then in the OSPP which just produced a recommendations on citizen science, and LERU advice paper on open science in May 2018. Library engagement in citizen science – an example from UCL East – UCL library thinking about a local oral history in the borough of Newham. The other example is the Transcribe Bentham is the crowdsourcing with 624 and it is very cost effective – an example of contribution through the special collection . Another example is the establishment of university press that is dedicated to Open Access . The answers – why do citizens collaborate? What is the motivation to volunteers? and so on. Libraries have a very important role and there is an open survey at

Susanne Hecker et al., Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
UFZ/German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-JenaLeipzig (DE): Innovation in and with CS. The journey about the ECSA 2016 and the development of the new open access book from the conferences –  bringing the experiences of the conference, bringing 120 researchers and what we can expect from the book – 29 chapters in 5 sections. Part 1 is about innovation in citizen science – setting the scene: it will include the description of the Ten Principles of citizen science, standards for citizen science, then the contribution on scientific impact, my chapter on participation in citizen science, then technology and infrastructure and evaluation. Part II, focus on questions on society – understanding the social theory, empowerment and scientific library, inclusiveness, support (technically and socially) and the integration with the higher education system. We have 40 case studies in the book, but in particular in China, Europe, Global mosquito alert, and water quality. The third part, focus on the science-policy interface, including policy formulation with an input from people at the EC and from Environmental Protection Agencies, also Responsible Research and Innovation. The next section is the innovation in technology and environmental monitoring (part IV) and it looks at technologies, light pollution, data protocol, and national monitoring programmes. The last part – section V – looking at science communication and education – making it education, addressing science capital through citizen science, children, school education, and stories that change the world. Key recommendation complete the book. The discussion included questions about the production of the book at open access and the need to promote it to policymakers and to wider audiences

Closing session

Claudia Appenzeller-Winterberger-  – citizen science is engagement of scientists and of the citizens, and you need to think why are we doing it? Is we summarise the dialogue, it is about the question of scientists and let the public ask questions. Thinking global and acting local. We will have to think about these new questions: a lot of it is testing and doing citizen science.


European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) 2018 conference – day 1: keynotes, education, and national & international programmes


Notes from the European Citizen Science Association Conference in Geneva, 4-5 June. Welcome to the conference! Katrin Vohland, ECSA Vice Chair, (DE) – conferences started from volunteering by Science et Cité two years ago. ECSA has been growing through participation in projects, and this allows ECSA to do things such as the conference and other networking activities – including Doing It Together Science, LandSense, and D-Noses, as well as the COST Action. The first H2020 application that was coordinated by ECSA is out and waiting for a decision. We can project different aspects to citizen science – see it between healing promise and ignorance – policymakers are paying attention it, and some are hoping that it will help in linking science and society. But participation information shows that we have involvement of the educated elite and this requires attention to inclusiveness. There is also the Neoliberal trap – competition and monetisation are appearing in academia, in concepts of nature, and citizen science is somewhere in between – participants carry out their work for free but it is also providing space for doing science that is not linked to financial constraints which can be seen as accepting such condition. However,  how citizen science can provide new routes for science? ECSA is one expression of the concept of Europe – cross-national system, and it is a way of strengthening European networks. There are now increasing the range of network, such as the global citizen science partnership.

Thomas Zeltner, President of the Foundation Science et Cité,
ECSA2018 Team, (CH) – on behalf of the local organisation: welcoming participants. The conference is a public and private partnership which we can see in the sponsorship. Science et Cité celebrate 20 years – communicating and dialoguing the part of science, art, society linkage in Switzerland. It is the importance of having a dialogue between science and society. Authoritarian regimes don’t need science – they do what they want, whereas, in a democracy, we need dialogue between public and science and providing evidence to help progressing issues. Switzerland direct democracy put in questions such as prescribing heroin to drug addicts which are complex issue – and with appropriate communication, there was a vote for it, and then issues about deciding how that happens, and this involved the local public of the centres reporting about their experience. A lot of issues are about this science/society dialogue – science finds new answers for the future, and bring them to the political debate. The organisation is now working in three domains: face to face interactions – scientists need to expose themselves to the public, and learn about the public, while the public understands the person behind the science. Second, using social networks technologies to create a dialogue between science and the public. Finally, learning networks – need for universities and research to learn how to communicate with the public.

Keynote: Citizen Science? Rethinking Science and Public Participation
Bruno J. Strasser (CH) 


Let’s Mainstream Citizen Science! Steffen Fritz DE
Promoting Awareness, Acceptability and Sustainability through WeObserv

Keynote: Shannon Dosemagen – Citizen Science and grassroots organisation 

An experience of integrating  communities in rural areas that don’t have access to resources. a lot of the work end being analougue to address gaps in technology ability and use – solid plan on how things will continue. The difference between equity and equality you can see different people that are supported in different ways – for example working closely with people that are in disadvantage and not treating them in the same way as everyone else. The engagement of scientists – there are valuable things that can come from the classroom and guidance ahead of time, and helping students to drop layers of expertise and listen and learn. What is the answer about the risk and challenge to professional researchers? the source for the reduction in journalism is not because of citizen journalism and the change in data production by communities is not about challenging journalism but adressing journalism deserts

Speed Talks: Education & Learning I

Julie Sheard DK Get them while they’re young – an effort in Denmark to identify invasive speicies. Experiments in which young people are involved in collecting samples of ants and then send them to the museum for idntification. They’ve done an effort of outreach, with lots of experiments that involve schools – 356 experiments that involved thousands of people. Children can do science and wotking with knowledgable staff incrases participation, it can help working with other organisations.

DSC_0646.JPGLucy Robinson et al. UK Learn CitSci: Exploring youth learning – through participation in CS – presenting as part of a wider partnerships. what and how young people learn in citizen science. The Natural History Museum are good places to link learning to citizen science. Potential to have a wider role in society. The question is about the impact of the learning programme. The current project look at online, direct learning and use observations and learning analytics. For the participation they use the Envrionmental Science Agency – for example, someone joins the project, understand science content and norms, then developing roles and science practice – supporting new participants and finally studying astronomy. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory looks at different aspects of the learning process. They will be use the ability of three museums to design new activities and then see how this will work and the project linking educational research with practitioners who are running citizen science projects.

DSC_0647.JPGTania Jenkins – Evoke project which is a project about scientific literacy: important about dealing with different issues – for most people evolution don’t necessarily make sense. It is a cornerstone of modern biology – “nothing in biology make sense except in the light of evolution” and want to show that evolution is relevant for decisions of food, managing the environment and so on. There different stakeholders – researchers, evolutionary researchers, etc. The eVoKE project brought 90 people from 15 countries and grown to over 250 people in 31 countries and ideas that grow to 7 associated projects – including evolution was reignited.

DSC_0649.JPGSilvia Winter AT CS in the classroom: empowering students – personal experience in Austria in a biodiversity area. Mentioned many challenges in school context – the students are not completely volunteering, logistic limitations, and other challenges. The strengths include the students enjoy observing and exploring nature, especially charismatic species. Typical tasks include different roles of teachers – from identifying the activity to dealing with logistics. An online survey of 581 biology teachers show 51% working on biodiversity projects, and they had to deal with little interest of students, high workload nad other challenges. There was a specific teaching programme in Austria to teach teachers on citizen science. There are different success factors – the commitment of the teachers is crucial, there is a need to identify something that can be observed, that the task is clear. It is possible to offer training courses.


Dialogue Session: National & International Networks

Gisela Wachinger DE How can scientists aid citizens to ensure
their contributions matter in scientific research? examples of projects across the research cycle and understanding the issues of quality control, thinking about the gap between citizens and scientists. Different experiences and issues of belief, interests etc. The job of the scientists should help to make the data better. OPAL as an example of top-down and bottom-up, which happen because of non-traditional funding source. Need to consider in-between people. All scientists are citizens but in science we are nomadic – because of the citizenship that we bring to the table.

Francisco Sanz ES Spanish actions on CS at national level – exploring the national plans and projects, and how it is developing. A national project in Spain to look at issues of communication plan, technical support and learning from other areas projects.

Daniel Dörler et al. AT Österreich forscht: the Austrian CS platform – started with roadkil and as a phD student wanted help in establishing citizen science (florian), there were a lot of project on volunteering in science and contact other related project and used the term to invite other people – from 9 projects in 2015 to 50, now go funding to carry out the work. 30% from humanities and social science – appeared in the conference that they carried out. The conference to exchange experience of project coordinators. The early part was actively searching for project, and now people are joining in and there is a collabortion with the government backed platform for citizen science. The centre of citizen science only publish projects that they are funding (by the government) and the network is doing it for the whole countries. Most people who get in touch with the platform want to get more participants and from the knowledge on how to communicate, how to engage, there are also working groups on quality, but also on other issues. In annual meeting they ask for things and work in a do-ocracy: expecting people to invest. One position and not much funding but a lot of volunteering effort. There is a working group on open data. There is an open access, and

David Ziegler DE Bürger schaffen Wissen – the platform for citizen science in Germany. Information about the project can be found through search engine, sharing newsletters, helping projects through science communication, linking to scientific issues to the scientists who can asnwer. Funded by the ministry of research and education – as projects: 3 years every time. Also working on building a coalition to support the future of citizen science in Germany. One full time communication person, and half time researcher, budget below 200,000 EUR as direct funding, and the growth of the field is creating a challenge. There are more projects that apply to be part of the platform than the ability to absorb them, check them that they are bone fide. 102 projects, and some project finished – 3000 unique visitors a month. 40% of projects don’t have university or resarch organisations that join in. Organise a conference once a year – citizen science forum, 2016 – 180, 2017 – 120, expecting 200 this year, and high turnover in terms of participation in the forum. There is less

Alison Parker et al. US CS at US Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. An advisory body for the US EPA, ther are barriers of figuring out the resources and the vision to carry out citizen science in the organisation. This is a complex topic to understand in different situation. There are views about putting power to people and giving them the responsibility to deal with their issues. There are different roles of environmental protection agency – for example the UK environment gency have been looked t citizen science and using it for investigation, and the goal is to collect the data to integrate data from citizen sciecne and other bodies. The EA get more information than what they have, especially with their funding. The Scottish EPA has committed to strategically include citizen science, similarly in Finland that moved into the way the organisation work. Citizen science might give you data that you might don’t want – need to be clear about the two way information from the organisation to people. Matching citizen science that reduce regulation costs while providing support to reduce risk

Identifying success factors in crowdsourced geographic information use in government

GFDRRA few weeks ago, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), published an update for the report from 2014 on the use of crowdsourced geographic information in government. The 2014 report was very successful – it has been downloaded almost 1,800 times from 41 countries around the world in about 3 years (with more than 40 academic references) which showed the interests of researchers and policymakers alike and outlined its usability. On the base of it, it was pleasing to be approached by GFDRR about a year ago, with a request to update it.

In preparation for this update, we sought comments and reviews from experts and people who used the report regarding possible improvements and amendments. This feedback helped to surface that the seven key factors highlighted by the first report as the ones that shaped the use of VGI in government (namely: incentives, aims, stakeholders, engagement, technical aspects, success factors, and problems) have developed both independently and in cross-cutting modes and today there is a new reality for the use of VGI in government.

Luckily, in the time between the first report and the beginning of the new project, I learned about Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) in the Giving Time event and therefore we added Matt Ryan to our team to help us with the analysis. QCA allowed us to take 50 cases, have an intensive face to face team workshop in June last year to code all the cases and agree on the way we create the input to QCA. This helped us in creating multiple models that provide us with an analysis of the success factors that help explain the cases that we deemed successful. We have used the fuzzy logic version of QCA, which allowed a more nuanced analysis.

Finally, in order to make the report accessible, we created a short version, which provides a policy brief to the success factors, and then the full report with the description of each case study.

It was pleasure working with the excellent team of researchers that worked on this report: Vyron Antoniou, Hellenic Army Geographic Directorate, Sofia Basiouka, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport, Robert Soden, World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction & Recovery (GFDRR), Vivien Deparday, World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction & Recovery (GFDRR). Matthew Ryan, University of Southampton, and Peter Mooney, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. We were especially lucky to be helped by Madeleine Hatfield of Yellowback Publishing who helped us in editing the report and making it better structured and much more readable.

The full report, which is titled “Identifying success factors in crowdsourced geographic information use in government” is available here.

And the Policy Brief is available here. 

Geothink & Learn citizen science session

The following recording is from the Geothink & Learn lunchtime webinar.

The call for the event stated:

“Should it be only people with graduate degree who make extraordinary scientific discoveries? Maybe not. Citizen scientists around the world have contributed to new discoveries in fields such as astronomy, biology, meteorology, geography, public health, and more. It can also address social and environmental inequalities, and allow individuals and communities to address issues that concern them through the application of scientific methods and tools. Efforts to harness the work of many hands or crowdsource important data collection or transcription have gained popularity because of their ability to help scientists in tasks that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish, increase public engagement with science, and potentially raise awareness and understanding of scientific issues. They also open up new lines of data in important areas of research, to the benefits of scientists and society. Citizen science requires the participation of ordinary citizens outside of scientific research in universities, governmental bodies, or other research institutions. Participation in citizen science provides individuals with new skills in technology, science, and community organization, as well as informal education on scientific issues. Crowdsourcing can take place as part of citizen science as it relates to large-scale participation that can include tens of thousands of people joining projects online.”

The webinar included me, Victoria Slonosky, principal organizer for ACRE–Canada and the Data Rescue: Archives and Weather Project (DRAW); and,  Caren Cooper, a research associate professor at North Carolina State University.

Participatory soundscape sensing – joint paper with Dr Chunming Li

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

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

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

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

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

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

The paper is available on ScienceDirect or also here

Citizen Science & Scientific Crowdsourcing – week 2 – Google Local Guides

The first week of the “Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing” course was dedicated to an introduction to the field of citizen science using the history, examples and typologies to demonstrate the breadth of the field. The second week was dedicated to the second half of the course name – crowdsourcing in general, and its utilisation in scientific contexts. In the lecture, after a brief introduction to the concepts, I wanted to use a concrete example that shows a maturity in the implementation of commercial crowdsourcing. I also wanted something that is relevant to citizen science and that many parallels can be drawn from, so to learn lessons. This gave me the opportunity to use Google Local Guides as a demonstration.

My interest in Google Local Guides (GLG) come from two core aspects of it. As I pointed in OpenStreetMap studies, I’m increasingly annoyed by claims that OpenStreetMap is the largest Volunteered Geographical Information (VGI) project in the world. It’s not. I guessed that GLG was, and by digging into it, I’m fairly confident that with 50,000,000 contributors (of which most are, as usual, one-timers), Google created the largest VGI project around. The contributions are within my “distributed intelligence” and are voluntary. The second aspect that makes the project is fascinating for me is linked to a talk from 2007 in one of the early OSM conferences about the usability barriers that OSM (or more general VGI) need to cross to reach a wide group of contributors – basically about user-centred design. The design of GLG is outstanding and shows how much was learned by the Google Maps and more generally by Google about crowdsourcing. I had very little information from Google about the project (Ed Parsons gave me several helpful comments on the final slide set), but by experiencing it as a participant who can notice the design decisions and implementation, it is hugely impressive to see how VGI is being implemented professionally.

As a demonstration project, it provides examples for recruitment, nudging participants to contribute, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, participation inequality, micro-tasks and longer tasks, incentives, basic principles of crowdsourcing such as “open call” that support flexibility, location and context aware alerts, and much more. Below is the segment from the lecture that focuses on Google Local Guides, and I hope to provide a more detailed analysis in a future post.

The rest of the lecture is available on UCLeXtend.

PhD studentship in collaboration with the Ordnance Survey – identifying systematic biases in crowdsourced geographic information

Deadline 13th July 2018

UCL Department of Geography and the Ordnance Survey are inviting applications for a PhD studentship to explore the internal systematic biases in crowd-sourced geographic information datasets (also known as Volunteered Geographic Information – VGI).

The studentship provides an exciting opportunity for a student to work with Ordnance Survey on understanding the use of crowd-sourced geographic information MH DSCN0571and potentially contributing to the use of such data sources by national mapping agencies. Ordnance Survey is an active partner in its sponsored research and offers students opportunities to work on-site and to contribute to workshops and innovation within the business. In addition, the student will be part of the Extreme Citizen Science group at UCL, which is one of the leading research groups in the area of crowdsourced geographic information and the study thereof.

For more information about the project, the studentship and details how to apply, please see below:

Start Date: October 2018

Funding status: Applications are invited from UK and EU citizenship holders.

Funding Body: EPSRC and Ordnance Survey

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

Project Description:

UCL Department of Geography and the Ordnance Survey are inviting applications for a PhD studentship to explore the internal systematic biases in crowd-sourced geographic information datasets (also known as Volunteered Geographic Information – VGI).

There has been a rapid increase in information gathered by people from all walks of life who are using connected devices with an ability to collect and share geographic information, such as GPS tracks, photographs with location information, or observations of the natural environment in citizen science projects. There is now a vast array of projects and activities that use this type of information, and each project has its own characteristics. Yet, it can be hypothesised that some of the characteristics of crowd-sourced geographic information will be systematically biased, and these biases differ between projects and data sources.

Crowd-sourced datasets will have some systematic biases that repeat across crowd-sourcing platforms. For example the impact of population density, business activity, and tourism on the places where data is available, or a weekend or seasonal bias of the temporal period of data collection. Others biases are project-specific – for example, some projects manage to attract more young men, and therefore places that are of interest to this demographic will be over-represented. One of the major obstacles that limit the use of such data sources is understanding and separating systematic and project-level biases and then developing statistical methods to evaluate their impact. In order to use such datasets to identify hidden features and patterns, there is a need to identify what are the relationships between a dataset and the world.

The aim of this research project, therefore, is to create a large collection of crowd-sourced GPS tracks and pedestrian trajectories, and use conflation techniques and advanced analytics to develop methodologies to identify and estimate the biases. Once this is done, the aim will be to identify hidden characteristics to be more confident about the patterns that are being observed.

Studentship Description

The studentship provides an exciting opportunity for a student to work with Ordnance Survey on understanding the use of crowd-sourced geographic information and potentially contributing to the use of such data sources by national mapping agencies. Ordnance Survey is an active partner in its sponsored research and offers students opportunities to work on-site and to contribute to workshops and innovation within the business. In addition, the student will be part of the Extreme Citizen Science group at UCL, which is one of the leading research groups in the area of crowdsourced geographic information and the study thereof.

The project will run for four years and will be supervised by Prof Muki Haklay from UCL and Jeremy Morley from Ordnance Survey. Professor Muki Haklay, who is a professor in the UCL Department of Geography and who has a track record of research and publication relating to crowdsourced data management and quality. Jeremy Morley is the Chief Geospatial Scientist at Ordnance Survey, leading the long-term business research programme, and has research experience in crowd-sourced geographic information.

 Person Specification

Applicants should possess a strong bachelor’s degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum) or Masters degree in Computer Science, Spatial statistics, Ecology, Geomatics, Geographic Information Science or a related discipline. The skills required to build the required database of case studies and the programming and analytical skills to assess biases and develop algorithms for their identification, are highly desirable. Candidates will ideally have some relevant previous research experience and should also have excellent communication and presentation skills.

The funding is provided for 4 years, and will involve spending time at the Ordnance Survey in Southampton.


Applications are invited from UK and EU citizens residing in UK. In particular, applicants must meet EPSRC eligibility and residency requirements found here:

Application Procedure

Applicants should send the following by e-mail to Yvette Hibberd ( and me (

  1. Cover letter, including a personal statement explaining your interest in the project.
  2. Examples of academic writing and outputs from past work (e.g. a dissertation or assignment)
  3. Academic transcripts
  4. A CV

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview during July/August 2017. Any incomplete applications will not be considered.