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.



Participatory [Citizen] Science

Citizen Science as Participatory Science‘ is one of the most popular posts that I have published here. The post is the core section of a chapter that was published in 2013 (the post itself was written in 2011). For the first European Citizen Science Association conference I was asked to give a keynote on the second day of the conference, which I have titled ‘Participatory Citizen Science‘, to match the overall theme of the conference, which is  ‘Citizen Science – Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy’. The abstract of the talk:

In the inaugural ECSA conference, we are exploring the intersection of innovation, open science, policy and society and the ways in which we can established new collaborations for a common good. The terms participation and inclusion are especially important if we want to fulfil the high expectations from citizen science, as a harbinger of open science. In the talk, the conditions for participatory citizen science will be explored – the potential audience of different areas and activities of citizen science, and the theoretical frameworks, methodologies and techniques that can be used to make citizen science more participatory. The challenges of participation include designing projects and activities that fit with participants’ daily life and practices, their interests, skills, as well as the resources that they have, self-believes and more. Using lessons from EU FP7 projects such as EveryAware, Citizen Cyberlab, and UK EPSRC projects Extreme Citizen Science, and Street Mobility, the boundaries of participatory citizen science will be charted.

As always, there is a gap between the abstract and the talk itself – as I started exploring the issues of participatory citizen science, some questions about the nature of participation came up, and I was trying to discuss them. Here are the slides:

After opening with acknowledgement to the people who work with us (and funded us), the talk turn the core issue – the term participation.
Sherry Arnstein with Harry S Truman (image by George Arnstein)

Type ‘participation’ into Google Scholar, and the top paper, with over 11,000 citations, is Sherry Rubin Arnstein’s ‘A ladder of citizen participation’. In her ladder, Sherry offered 8 levels of participation – from manipulation to citizen control. Her focus was on political power and the ability of the people who are impacted by the decisions to participate and influence them. Knowingly simplified, the ladder focus on political power relationships, and it might be this simple presentation and structure that explains its lasting influence.

Since its emergence, other researchers developed versions of participation ladders – for example Wiedmann and Femers (1993), here from a talk I gave in 2011:

These ladders come with baggage: a strong value judgement that the top is good, and the bottom is minimal (in the version above) or worse (in Arnstein’s version). The WeGovNow! Project is part of the range of ongoing activities of using digital tools to increase participation and move between rungs in these concept of participation, with an inherent assumption about the importance of high engagement.

Levels of Citizen Science 2011
Levels of Citizen Science 2011

At the beginning of 2011, I found myself creating a ladder of my own. Influenced by the ladders that I learned from, the ‘levels of citizen science’ make an implicit value judgement in which ‘extreme’ at the top is better than crowdsourcing. However, the more I’ve learned about citizen science, and had time to reflect on what participation mean and who should participate and how, I feel that this strong value judgement is wrong and a simple ladder can’t capture the nature of participation in Citizen Science.

There are two characteristics that demonstrate the complexity of participation particularly well: the levels of education of participants in citizen science activities, and the way participation inequality (AKA 90-9-1 rule) shape the time and effort investment of participants in citizen science activities.

We can look at them in turns, by examining citizen science projects against the general population. We start with levels of education – Across the EU28 countries, we are now approaching 27% of the population with tertiary education (university). There is wide variability, with the UK at 37.6%, France at 30.4%, Germany 23.8%, Italy 15.5%, and Romania 15%. This is part of a global trend – with about 200 million students studying in tertiary education across the world, of which about 2.5 million (about 1.25%) studying to a doctoral level.

However, if we look at citizen science project, we see a different picture: in OpenStreetMap, 78% of participants hold tertiary education, with 8% holding doctoral level degrees. In Galaxy Zoo, 65% of participants with tertiary education and 10% with doctoral level degrees. In Transcribe Bentham (TB), 97% of participants have tertiary education and 24% hold doctoral level degrees. What we see here is much more participation with people with higher degrees – well above their expected rate in the general population.

The second aspect, Participation inequality, have been observed in OpenStreetMap volunteer mapping activities, iSpot – in both the community of those who capture information and those that help classify the species, and even in an offline conservation volunteering activities of the Trust for Conservation Volunteers. In short, it is very persistent aspect of citizen science activities.

For the sake of the analysis, lets think of look at citizen science projects that require high skills from participants and significant engagement (like TB), those that require high skills but not necessarily a demanding participation (as many Zooniverse project do), and then the low skills/high engagement project (e.g. our work with non-literate groups), and finally low skills/low engagement projects. There are clear benefits for participation in each and every block of this classification:

high skills/high engagement: These provide provide a way to include highly valuable effort with the participants acting as virtual research assistants. There is a significant time investment by them, and opportunities for deeper engagement (writing papers, analysis)

high skills/low engagement: The high skills might contribute to data quality, and allow the use of disciplinary jargon, with opportunities for lighter or deeper engagement to match time/effort constraints

low skills/high engagement: Such activities are providing an opportunity for education, awareness raising, increased science capital, and other skills. They require support and facilitation but can show high potential for inclusiveness.

low skills/low engagement: Here we have an opportunity for active engagement with science with limited effort, there is also a potential for family/Cross-generational activities, and outreach to marginalised groups (as OPen Air Laboratories done)

In short – in each type of project, there are important societal benefits for participation, and it’s not only the ‘full inclusion at the deep level’ that we should focus on.

Interestingly, across these projects and levels, people are motivated by science as a joint human activity of creating knowledge that is shared.

So what can we say about participation in citizen science – well, it’s complex. There are cases where the effort is exploited, and we should guard against that, but outside these cases, the rest is much more complex picture.

The talk move on to suggest a model of allowing people to adjust their participation in citizen science through an ‘escalator’ that we are aiming to conceptually develop in DITOs.

Finally, with this understanding of participation, we can understand better the link to open science, open access and the need of participants to potentially analyse the information.

ECSA 2016: Open Science – Policy Innovation & Social Impact (Day 1 afternoon)

See the first post of the day here. After the afternoon break, the second panel was dedicated to started with Innovative approaches to civic engagement, learning & education

Michael J.O. Pocock (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK). Defined himself as an ecologist who is interested in citizen science. He is interested in ecosystem services and finding ways to engage people and communicate the ideas and imporance of nature to people – and that is why he created ‘hypothesis led citizen science’ in the Conker  Tree Science project. The project includes ecosystem services, invasive species and other ecological discussions within the interaction between the participants and the scientists, so it got an element of education. Challenge is evaluating if the educataional benefits that are assumed to be happening do materialise. Michael also shared the experience from the Biological Records Centre, which has been working for 50 years with different groups of volunteers and enthiasts for identifying species. BRC provide support through infrastructure, but the communities are learning and developing themselves. Meaningful interactions in the Conker Tree Project: we can have mass communication, but the mass participation allow deeper engagement. Also there are questions that are coming from the community of the people that were involved, but when the project team asked ‘what research questions should we address next?’ there was no response from the thousands of participants. However, direct emails and contacts raised research questions, but the level of engagement in this part of the project was limited.

The cost benefit report is here

wp-1463667959231.jpgDavid Weigend (Haus der Zukunft, Germany) – at the house of the future, the reality lab is a lab to allow people to create their own future. They want to enable people to share the future. Societal issues that they are exploring today are complex – such as data security – so their approach is to through their process that lead to creativity and exploration. For example, thinking about apps that help people to see what information is being collected about them over one day, so they can think about the implications and discuss them with facilitators. The type of engagement that they are trying to achieve is hard and they can reach about 50 people face to face, but aim to have apps and tool-kits to allow more people to be involved – e.g. through games which helping to understand issues.

Isabelle Arpin (IRSTEA, France). As a sociologist, she research citizen science – in her case the experience of gardeners from Grenoble, which were involved in a project about management based on insects instead of pesticides. The city wanted to convince the gardeners that the approach was appropriate management approach, but gardeners in the city were complaining about the use of insects. The citizen science was means to convince gardeners that the approach was valid. They were trying to show that they’ll experience more butterflies in the gardens. There was a clear evidence of change for the gardeners in their personal and professional life. The gardeners were not highly educated but as they were very engaged in the project, they learned more about insects. It’s not spontaneous to notice things (e.g. attention to insects). Therefore, we need to think of technologies of attention that make people aware of new things in their area.

Marie Céline Loibl (Sparkling Science Austria, Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Austria). The research of citizen science in Austria – well funded range of projects of involving people in many fields of work, and the scope have engaged many organisations: 450 schools, over 50 universities with interest to work in authentic research situations. It’s about offering people to fund research but only project that can students can be actively involved and do. Most students are involved because of guidance by teachers, not only by the students themselves, volunteering people – but all the projects have difficult phase in the middle of knowing how to go through the project, but when it works it is amazing.

Mike Sharples (The Open University, UK). The Open University is about inclusive research and education, and they have been working to allow people to do open inquiry trough the project nQuire-it where people can create missions and proposed investigations. On the platform it is easy to create a session and then using mobile phones as the measuring device. The app unlock sensors on the phone and see link between air pressure and precipitation. The professional scientists can have a role in nQuire-it – engaging professional and creating sustainable community is a challenge. You need to moderate and facilitate an inquiry to make it both sustainable and successful, and without it it will not be successful Experts can help in understanding calibration, data reliability and more. Another project of the platform is about birds and relationships to noise – which is an example of open question in the science, but there is value in the learning.

Question – Which budget should be used: research money or public engagement funds? Marie is using official government money with big investment, the open university are getting money from research, trusts, volunteers and more. Michael get funding from the government research and others. Is it possible to get ‘research money’ to do citizen science? The FWF in Austria started providing additional funding for citizen science for projects. This is also happening also at the H2020 level. Michael – citizen science is quality science but perceived as risky, and make research funders reluctant to invest in it. Looking at cost and benefits of citizen science, which was challenging. There are risks but the benefits are especially big when it works. There are also innovations that helped the EU.

How to measure engagement? is it quantity or quality? Marie – in Austria they offered awards to citizen science activities to encourage the incentives carefully – to make sure that data is valid. There are issues about quality of conversation and check that they lead to shared understanding – e.g. how you calibrate instruments. Looking at the conversations and outcomes. David – quality of engagement should be the top. There are challenges and funders sometime want to see high number of participation. Isabel – the importance was the engagement of gardeners was about quality and not quality. It is important to have trust and not just forced to interact with highly educated people.

Is citizen science about generating new science in civic engagement or engagement. Mike – they try to learn good science and good learning. David – the open agricultural project of MIT is carrying a message of decentralised agriculture and also doing good research Michael – citizen science is central to my work, but it is not possible to do the science without that. Equally, engaging with people give benefits to both side. The worst words in citizen science are ‘they should’ towards participants. Marie – there is a need to integrate both. Isabel – there can be a focus on engagement that also lead to science.

Citizen Science strategy and impact development in Germany – Aletta Bonn, Katrin Vohland. They shared the experience in Germany in development of citizen science strategy. there were hopes from government, NGOs and researchers – thinking about the added value of citizen science. The project funded by the ministry of science and education. They created a platform that share citizen science projects, providing events, interaction, discussions etc. Key insights: there was a question about the definition of citizen science – need a clear definition, but keep it open. At the core, these are questions about cooperation and participation and what conditions are needed for it. There is mutual learning which is under exploit area. The results is a green book with the strategy. A video show the details participatory process that they went through to arrive to the paper.

Some core issues in the consultation includes: fairness in participation process, sustainability of collaborative activities, and move towards responsible research and innovation. People comments include fun but also ‘science should be accessible to everyone’. There are in position papers different views of where citizen science fit. In the institutions, researchers thought that it should be in data collection and maybe dissemination. but civil society organisations seen a much wider role – less in design, but everywhere else. The recommendation include strengthening existing structures: networking, funding instruments, citizen science training and volunteer management, and synergies with science communication. Understanding different roles. There was also a recommendation to think of new structures – building a culture of valuing citizen science in society, science and policy. We need data quality and data management and the last recommendation is to integrate citizen science in scientific processes, in education and in decision making. They aim to move from green to white paper.

17:00 Citizen Science as an input for better policy formulation & implementation Chairs/Organisers: Jose Miguel Rubio-Iglesias DG Research & Innovation, European Commission, & Susana Nascimento Joint Research Centre – JRC, European Commission New order of panelists

Lea Shanley (co-Execuctive Director, South Big Data Innovation Hub at Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA). Lea experience from tribal mapping to policy engagement in washington. In 2010 she looked at public involvement in managing NASA assets. There is a citizen science act to help federal agencies to get hrough it – basic legislation that give authorisation to agencies to do what they want to achieve. These were concepts that work in the senate, but then reachign out to 60 organisations and people and then integrate the results into the legaslistic process

Roger Owen. There is a distinction between participation and citizen science. There is a long tradition in the UK of using citizen science data for decision making, but if we want to get into behaviour change, we need better dialogues and enagement. This is indeed top down – EPAs know what they got to do, and they tend to commission top-down process, but then they need to also thinking about other observers and what they are interested in, and we need to feed back what they are doing with data and how it is used in decision making

Christian Herbst (Deputy head of Strategic Foresight and Science Communication, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany). The interest started from science communication perspective during the year of science. The ministry see citizen science as part of science communication. The coalition treaty stated that it should bring participation and science communication together. Bringing society and science together – involve more people in science. We need quality and quantity – we need to involve a lot of people. We need to have dialogues with citizens about science and need to initiate decision making process, co-design and co-production can be integrated in decision preparation phases – that’s an area for citizen science now.

Sven Schade (Joint Research Centre – JRC, European Commission). JRC is an internal science service for the EC. The process that the JRC done was to look at data driven information. They started in 2012 to look at crowdsourced data, but then more and more citizen science. They have just published a report about data management in citizen science – over 120 projects, and most in the environmental area. They are now moving to look at the way citizen science can be used to influence decision making. It doesn’t influence the process.

Elena Montani (Policy Officer, Knowledge, Risks and Urban Environment Unit, DG Environment, European Commission). Policy making is slow, especially when new technologies emerge. So they are reflecting on how they can integrate citizen science in decision making process. There is big potential: behaviour change, economics – showing that it will be cost effective, there are no success stories at member states to integrate into a wider framework. There is environmental knowledge community, and exploring how new forms of knowledge are emerging – looking specifically about Nature 2000 areas. They accept the challenges and also other opportunities . Apps are easy to use about noise, but they can be contradictory to official records, so need to consider how to reconcile these forms of data collection.

Lea – they are building on the long work of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the federal government agencies there were a range of interest across the board – but they found agency staff that were interested, but didn’t know what to do. They began by linking champions through the federal community of practice – with funding from the Sloan foundation, the commons-lab in the Wilson center commissioned studies to deal with barriers – data quality, privacy, costs and created case studies approach. Also a set of case studies that demonstrated success. The ‘new visions on citizen science’ worked well to promote attention – getting high level support to such action. There is risk averse approach at federal agencies, and working through high level bodies such as the White House allowed the development of list of tools, and get their commitment – have executive on record that it is permitted.

Jan-Martin – we need to educate policy makers about the need to integrate citizen science. Sven – there is another level in the EU – the 28 member states have their own understanding, culture, approaches, regulations and systems. There are plenty of success stories at the national level across the board. Christian – although government provide funding for governmental guidelines, but in the end, but there is a need to listen to people and understand more about citizen science. Citizen science is about getting involved with science, which will influence scientific decision making. There is scientists opposition to citizen science – see it as a danger. Jan-Martin – use of citizen science for data collection – to what degree can they use the information for decision making, Roger – the anglers monitoring initiative show us that the aggregate data does provide early warning to the professionals. Data can be filtered and use properly for decision making. Sven – there are ways to measure lakes in Finland that provide new information that can be tested. Lea – in the federal government they talk about augmenting and filling the gaps, not about replacing. Elena – the EU is interested in encouraging participation – as part of Aarhus convention. Roger – air quality as a method to engage people and see how policies are in terms of effectiveness. Elena – They are potential that cannot be ignores . Sven – at different levels there are different needs and approaches. Christian – participation is different at different levels: local, regional and national.

Can citizen science help us in understanding the how? Roger – yes, it give us an understanding of how to do things not just in what. What do we need to tell policy makers? Elena – how the data that is provided can be integrated into their policies, and need to be reassured that it is comparable, and also what it brings to society – need dialogue: there is utilitarian approach from institutions to reduce cost of data gathering. Lea – another way of understanding what the citizens want, understanding of improving the missions of the organisation. Link the priorities to the interests of the policy maker. Sven – the opportunity is part of the digital single market as an entry point. Christian – there is also the potential of social innovation. Give new ideas to policy makers. Roger – regarding standards for citizen science, not simple, but SEPA develop the choosing and using citizen science guide. Sven – in basic services there are interoperability standards, Lea – for some data need to match standards. ECSA already published two policy paper. Questions to the audience: what are the experience of working with policy? what tools help with that? Christian – how many think that citizen science is about impact on policy making – an aspect but not the only. Roger – success of citizen science is about changing people behaviour – quite a lot of people.

Last question: one term – inequality: participation, opportunity, knowledge. Christian suggest that every citizen science should include dealing with inequality. Roger – interest in reaching hard to reach and marginalised communities, through dealing with housing association. Alena – citizen science is about dealing with inequality. We cannot field the gaps without full participation. Need to empower people that are not empowered. Christian – very important issue, as people across Europe are opposing political systems. We need to engage more people in scientific processes. We need spectrum of projects. LEa – pariticpatory mapping community have done that for many years, giving people a seat at the table. They reached out to groups who are doing social science data. Sven – citizen science is one approach but it can be used to help with inequality. Lea – there is also controversy about citizen science.

Aletta – observations: we had an inspiring day and we can think of new questions that are being asked and how people in the conference and outside the society address them. The diversity of the field is very rich in experience and knowledge. It is exploding on twitter (and there is this blog). There are new books emerging about citizen science.

Following the day a reception at the Natural History Museum and three rounds of discussion tables under the dinosaurs at the entrance to the museum…


ECSA 2016: Open Science – Policy Innovation & Social Impact (Day 1 morning)

wp-1463648689152.jpgThe 19th May 2016 was a special day for the European Citizen Science Association, with the opening of the first conference of the organisation, focusing on the links between citizen science and open science. 

You can find the report on the afternoon of the first day, second day (morning, evening), third day, my talk at the conference, and the ThinkCamp challenge, elsewhere on this blog.

Aletta Bonn opening ECSA2016The opening of the conference was by the conference chair, Aletta Bonn (Helmholtz Association | German Center for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) – GEWISS). Aletta welcomed everyone to the conference, exploring the balances between science, technologies and inclusion, and use of the information is central to citizen science. We have 350 people that came from different countries, organisations and projects to discuss citizen science. In Germany, there is already a working document that aim to support citizen science. In 2013, the German coalition agreement declared ‘we want to develop new forms of citizen participation and the communication of science‘ – the ministry of science newsletter this week is focusing on science for all as its theme. in this conference we have three full days. The first day dedicated to policy impact and social impact – we will have different ways to work together. The second day is about scientific innovation – we have almost 100 posters, and the breaks are opportunities for people to talk with other people and create new connection, the third day is open to the maker community in Berlin – celebrating success in many projects. We have an unconference programme in the thinkcamp to allow this openness. We have the citizen science disco on the second night, and a citizen science festival – linking to the activities of ECSA in Barcelona last year when we had citizen science safari. We had a big conference committee and many people where happy to help. The people who run the effort to make the conference happen led by Susanna Hecker and Ogarit Uhlmann. During the conference we will also have the launch of the new citizen science journal and also a joint book is in the planning.

Katrin Vohland (Museum of Natural History Berlin – GEWISS, Vice-chair ECSA). She noted that citizen science is now a global movement. Institutionalisation is a signal for development of the area, with ECSA, CSA (US), ACSA (Australia) and also networks in China, New Zealand, and other places. There is also coming together on identity in the principles of citizen science.

Citizen science should be part of identity of democratisation, European culture of joint effort and collaboration. Citizen science also go through professionalisation – we exchange not only experience, but we also think of social and political impact. Citizen science gains discursive power in the scientific and political arenas and  that is important to be taken seriously. While we are getting over the issue of trusting data, other issues emerge – there is no trade-off between freedom of academic research and citizen science but some researchers think so. We can see links to policy, and to responsible research and innovation. ECSA members jointly developed a strategy : promoting sustainability, developing a think-tank for citizen science, and developing methodological best practice. We want to see marginalised groups joining in participatory science. Citizen science can also help migrants to join citizen science. There are now H2020 projects that ECSA is part of them  – among them DITOs which links the dots in citizen science.

Roger Owen (Head of Ecology, Scottish Environment Protection Agency). For environmental protection agencies (EPAs) there are clear goals – to regulate, but also establishing partnerships, raising environmental awareness, and building up the evidence based – this is important to other people who act on the environment. This is also an opportunity to assess the success of policies. For EPAs, public engagement helps in raising awareness, engagement, getting data. In the range of tools that are available to EPAs, there can be expert assessment that is very expensive – and citizen science is cost-effective. Activities in Scotland include meteorological observations with many volunteers and over 650 anglers that do ecological assessment of streams. SEPA is also developing apps, and they commissioned a guide for the best use of citizen science for EPAs, There is now a network through the EEA to engage in citizen science activities: well design citizen science assist policy formation, provide monitoring data and evidence, serve as early warning, harness volunteer thinking, work across scales and more. EPAs can provide data and infrastructure, access to technology (e.g. apps), provide best practice guidelines, help with funding. The EPA network want to understand the success criteria and lessons from initiatives. The EPSAs also want to understand motivations and incentives so they can work better with citizen science. They also want joint and complementary ECSA/EPA network activities across Europe.

The next talk: Citizen science – Connecting to the Open Science Agenda was given by Jose-Miguel Rubio (Policy Officer at the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission. on behalf of John Magen).

He aimed to provide the policy context for open science. One of the major drivers for open science is the digital single market (with support from commissioners Ansip, Oettinger, and Moedas). The research and innovation team of the EU is central: Moedas stated: ‘help us ensure citizen scientists contribute to European Science as valid knowledge producers by 2020′ during the open science conference in April 2016. By open science, we mean the transformation and opening up of the scientific process, through collaborative work that is facilitated by innovative information and communication technologies. We see shift from only publications, to sharing knowledge through the web: it makes it more efficient, transparent and collaborative. The benefits that are expected – good for science (efficient, verified, transparent), economy (access and reuse of scientific knowledge by industry, and good for society (broader, faster, transparent, and equal access to it). The open science evolved from public consultation that started 2 years ago – on science 2.0. Policy recommendations include the need to support citizen science platforms, and support its development. 5 broad policy actions which include citizen science in them – creating incentives, removing barriers, promoting open access, developing open science cloud, and embedding open science in society. citizen science is appearing in the top level ambitions. Citizen science is embedded in specific approaches by research funding, making it linked to society. There are several activities that relate to citizen science and public engagement. Seeing citizens are many roles: scientist , consumer, decision maker, user of data. In H2020, which is much of the biggest funding programme for science in the world, including citizen science – through open access. Examples for the activities are the collective awareness platforms for social innovation and sustainability (CAPS programme) including bottom up activities. There is also reports about citizen science – the white paper of Socientize, and the UWE report on environmental citizen science, there are the Citizens’ Observatories projects including 5 FP7 projects, and 4 new projects that start next year – LandSense, GROW, GroundTruth2.0 and Scent (ECSA is member in one of those). The MyGEOSS competition is another area of activity.

Panel discussions facilitated by: Jan-Martin Wiarda Germany who got interested in the area as a journalist. the different panel members explore Citizen Science – Demonstrating Success

Josep Perelló (OpenSystems, Spain): open systems propose opening up research, complex systems research that are about society, but do experiments in public space and in collaborations with people with different skills – ordinary citizens, artists, designers and scientists. They also have a citizen science office in Barcelona with 20 groups and support from the city council. There is a Flickr album of open systems, and they do experiments in the street – asking people to understand how we cooperate – we are opens to allow designers and artists to work together in a city square. They have done reforestation in addition to the experiment to have the social impact after the project to pay back in social and environmental aspects. This was successful – it need to have scientific impact, in high impact journal (including Nature communications), they want to see 3 actors – scientists, artists and public authorities for example, and also want to demonstrate positive social impact

Arnold van Vliet (Natuurkalender Netherlands) – the project on which Arnold involved in is about phenology network, and it involves thousands of volunteers, with a long term changes – they can show tick bites and the link to lime disease. They reach out through media and get to 250 million times, which is a lot in the Netherlands – being media academic help to increase public awareness.

Daniel Dörler (, Austria). In 2012 Florian and Daniel started doing citizen science in Austria, like SciStarter. They found 30 different projects from all sort of institutions – some by citizens, some by NGOs, universities. The main goal is to connect citizen science actors in Austria to help them collaborate. The platform is independent , and the system is more than a hobby, and along side a PhD work but support to the project can be an issue. What is making citizen science successful – the quality fo a project need to be high – scientific results, data but also how they give back to citizens. Citizens contribute for fun, but it need to give back more than just fun

Doreen Walther (Mosquito Atlas, Germany). The Mückenatlas project – the project focus on human health and it point to Mosquito borne diseases across Europe. Germany was assumed that no malaria will happen after WW II. there was no attention for a long time, but with invasive species, there was a need to notice them and endemic species. They realised that people want to learn more about mosquito biology and life. Doreen is interested in the life of mosquito and their development. They are doing molecular analysis. Ask people to collect mosquitos, kill them and share them with the scientists. Over 30,000 samples arriving in a year

Louise Francis (Mapping for change, UK). Started with projects about noise issues, but then turned into air quality issues with response from local authority to monitor locally. Worked with over 30 communities, using simple methods that can be used even by children in schools, working together with local authorities, there are cases of changes in buses from transport providers. Success is when there is an active change in the area. Engaging people is challenging to scale up – by making the data opened and shared, we are providing the tools to let communities to the work by themselves. Can be overwhelming demands when communities want to join. There are different approaches – when people live in a certain area and concerned about development project. Purchasing diffusion tubes for community can be €8 for one diffusion tube, and then buy them themselves. The people decide by themselves where they want to work.

Discussion: Need to use different networks, and need to show that the content is valuable, information need to be relevant to people – to get ideas of mosquitoes and collecting information from licence plates was possible in the Netherlands with 600 people but not huge scale. Josep pointed that you need to adapt to the specific situation and it’s not only about autonomy – it’s more like guerilla than an army with regular structure. Martin – there are tensions between top-down and bottom-up. Louise – we set up a separate social enterprise for flexibility and responsiveness, but the issue is autonomous from what – there is sometime lack of trust by the local government, so sometime the link to university is useful to increase trust. There is value in a third-party between local government and communities. Doreen – they deal with insect of medical importance, and media is getting involved, and creating panic is actually useful, but people have question marks in their heads and contact experts, which they offer and give an answer. This also encourage people to participate. Martin – relevance is coming again many time. Scientists don’t decide what is relevant. Arnold – scientists can have an important question to ask people to help, the other way around is also useful – both directions are useful and can work. If the scientist can’t communicate with the public than it won’t work. Josep – working with local authorities does require asking them what is relevant to them to address as that helps in participation.

Regarding open data policies – Daniel: encouraging projects to move towards this to encourage partner projects. The platform is trying to facilitate engagement but not to force policies. in terms of relevance, it is hard to judge what are the success factors – for example a project about wild life in the city. Louise – in terms of mobile app, our conclusion was to keep very simple approach of using diffusion tubes, so it’s very simple way to record data collection process, and then record the results from the lab – so facilitating simple sensing. Doreen – regarding how many people engage: the use of media TV, radio and newspaper help people to engage, but also internet platform and word of mouth. People have events – BBQ to attract and collect mosquito.

Are there examples of people that turned into professionals scientists but we did work with people that we seen change to move to further education – participants can be empower people in what they want to do. Josep – with the impact in school. Arnold – The population of participation – up to 60% of participants have higher education and therefore are scientists. Most people are already educated.

Audience poll – about 15% work on citizen science full time, 60% part time, and 15% as a hobby – but with overlaps .

Unsuccessful project can be things like for Josep, when urban bee hive remain illegal. For Doreen, the costs and complexity and loss of time can lead to failed projects. Louise  – questions of data and data validity – volunteer work hard to collect data and then ist is questioned and requestioned, and sometime that the research team ask us to collect a lot of data collection, and there are issues of thinking about the motivations of participation.

The lunch break provided time for experimentation

The afternoon session started with The diversity of citizen-science technologies: traditional and new opportunities for interactive participation in scientific research. We are covering the areas of the impacts of technologies, and this session explore how they influence participation, with a distinctive marine flavour

Jaume Piera (Institut de Ciències del Mar, Spain) – see the need to change and obtain observations, and changing the paradigm of information flow – from linear to complex. We need to think of acquisition, validation, data sharing, data tracking, engagement, data exploration and more. They work with makers and DIYrs to create cheap and easy to use instruments that produce high quality data – linking apps to DIY buoy .

Robert Arlinghaus (Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Germany). The only professor for angling in Germany. He started with all fashion way – diaries. Wanted to empower anglers to do experiments about stocks in their lakes. They’ve done experiments with anglers in their clubs, with participation in the design and the experiment itself. The anglers had high engagement, and low engagement – with a control groups. They engaged anglers even involved in the assessment of the results, and they showed that the engagement is empowering people – there is knowledge gain from seminar who lead to low level of retained knowledge, compared to those who were involved, and clear change in cognition – beliefs and personal norms. Limited use of technology, but now developing apps to catch assessment – need to consider who are the anglers, who are not used to advanced technology. Risk of exclusion through technology. They had 30% response rate on the paper diaries.

Neil Bailey Earthwatch, UK. In Earthwatch, working with fresh water watch involving many volunteers across the world, with an importance of having a global programme with local touch – in each of the 30 locations the local scientists managed their own variables and focus . Important to put flexibility to allow local variation. This need to express itself in apps. The website of the HSBC project include 1 day training and then on going engagement through the site. FreshWaterWatch is working with many partners: shell, HSBC, PwC, Heathrow, Riverfly partnership, Water Aid.

Discussion: Robert – there are exciting innovation in technology, that can show invasion and provide early warning. There are challenges of participation and bias, and privacy is a big issue in terms of privacy about the catch. Jaume – creating technical tools allow scaling and there is need to develop apps that are inclusive and don’t rely on the latest technology. Neil – there are questions about the exclusion potential, but there are already very cheap devices across the world. Having the smartphone doesn’t mean that you can use it well. Robert – we need to think who participate and who benefit in the results – you can have many people who benefit from the results that go to scientists who analysed it. However, the maps are becoming global and then there are many people receiving and using the information. Jaume – there are people who are enjoy makers, other observes, and other analysers. Different people have different skills and wish to participate. It allow different modes of participation. Martin – technology allow more people who use the results. Is the main thing collection of data or use, and will technology increase use of data? Do we get better data in terms of quality? Robert – in fresh water there is plenty of useful examples – information about the location from the GPS – trust technology on that. Neil – there are load of potential for technology and can be mine by different ways. Sensing is also useful, as well as allowing more data to understand the situation. Jaume – technology can help in collective intelligence, and people can identify species and so on. Audience question: how to merge data from different projects be shared? Neil – need to move data outside silos and need to figure out how to share it and use shared platforms. User interfaces are critical – need to allow working with the data in a way that is useful and effective. Need more partnership. Jaume – there is an international working group on interoperability of citizen science data. Q: How to engage people with little technological knowledge? Why Africa not in FreshWaterWatch? Neil – providing people technology is an incentive and possible to share it with more people. Q – technology is fine, but become out of data – how do you keep it? Neil – need to work with different technologies, but indeed require updating. Jaume – people can also participate in updating systems through open source and wider participation. Q – is the project design consider reuse in other contexts? This is happening in different project and being considered by the people in the projects. Jaume highlight the open source ability to share the underlying code.

What is the innovation that you see most important? Jaume – open hardware. Robert – web application, diaries on the web. Neil – flexible platforms