This article pushes forward a technology that would enable smart phones to be used as “relay” stations for sparse data collection networks. This is a great step for increasing citizen science opportunities centered on data collection. There is also a good general discussion of the use of embedded sensing technologies. — LFF
Interest in Citizen Science has grown significantly over the last decade. Much of this interest can be traced to the provision of sophisticated platforms that enable seamless collaboration, cooperation and coordination between professional and amateur scientists. In terms of field research, smart-phones have been widely adopted, automating data collection and enriching observations with photographs, sound recordings and GPS coordinates using embedded sensors hosted on the device itself. Interaction with external sensor platforms such as those normally used in the environmental monitoring domain is practically null-existent. Remedying this deficiency would have positive ramifications for both the professional and citizen science communities. To illustrate the relevant issues, this paper considers a common problem, that of data collection in sparse sensor networks, and proposes a practical solution that would enable citizen scientists act as Human Relays thus facilitating the collection of data from such networks. Broader issues necessary for enabling intelligent sensing using common smart-phones and embedded sensing technologies are then discussed.
Photo credit: Ed Bourdon (CC).