Excerpt: Until recently, much mapping activity was in the exclusive realm of authoritative agencies but technological development has also allowed the rise of the amateur mapping community. The proliferation of inexpensive and highly mobile and location aware devices together with Web 2.0 technology have fostered the emergence of the citizen as a source of data. Mapping presently benefits from vast amounts of spatial data as well as people able to provide observations of geographic phenomena, which can inform map production, revision and evaluation. The great potential of these developments is, however, often limited by concerns. The latter span issues from the nature of the citizens through the way data are collected and shared to the quality and trustworthiness of the data. This book reports on some of the key issues connected with the use of citizen sensors in mapping. It arises from a European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) Action, which explored issues linked to topics ranging from citizen motivation, data acquisition, data quality and the use of citizen derived data in the production of maps that rival, and sometimes surpass, maps arising from authoritative agencies.

Source: Foody, G et al. 2017. Mapping and the Citizen Sensor. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bbf

Editor’s Choice: The focus of this paper is a summary of two workshops held to better understand the design and development principles for mobile or web-based citizen science platforms. The recommendations from the working groups are well worth reading – even if you think you know everything about developing citizen science projects! – LFF

Abstract: Apps for mobile devices and web-based platforms are increasingly used in citizen science projects. While extensive research has been done in multiple areas of studies, from Human-Computer Interaction to public engagement in science, we are not aware of a collection of recommendations specific for citizen science that provides support and advice for planning, design and data management of mobile apps and platforms that will assist learning from best practice and successful implementations. In two workshops, citizen science practitioners with experience in mobile application and web-platform development and implementation came together to analyse, discuss and define recommendations for the initiators of technology based citizen science projects. Many of the recommendations produced during the two workshops are applicable to citizen science project that do not use mobile devices to collect data. Therefore, we propose to closely connect the results presented here with ECSA’s Ten Principles of Citizen Science.

NPS Photo / Claire Abendroth

Source: Sturm, U., et al, 2018. Defining principles for mobile apps and platforms development in citizen science. Research Ideas and Outcomes 4: e23394. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.4.e23394

Editor’s Choice: This paper points out that there is an oft-overlooked category of people interacting with citizen science projects – people who do not contribute to the data collection, but who nonetheless consume data and information related to the project. The questions are then posed – do these data consumers share the same characteristics as the data producers; and do they actually impact project outcomes? If you have anything to do with project design or management, you will want to read on to find the intriguing answers.  – LFF

Abstract: Data collection or generation is the primary way that the majority of volunteers advance the scientific goals of citizen science projects, but other activities such as data consumption also may influence learning, civic, and conservation outcomes. Project designers and managers balance goals for multiple outcomes and thus need to consider the influence of all project-related activities on outcomes. In a study of the kayak-based Citizen’s Water Quality Testing (CWQT) Program in New York City, we compared the characteristics, perceptions, and behaviors of those collecting and using CWQT data (data collectors) and those solely using the data (data consumers). Data collectors (n = 40) and consumers (n = 24) were similar in gender and political orientation, but collectors were younger, devoted more time to the project, and experienced far more face-to-face interactions related to the project. Data collectors and consumers had similar motivations for participation, except that collectors were more likely motivated by recognition for their efforts. Lack of free time was the largest barrier to participation for both types of participants, and a significantly greater barrier for consumers. Data collectors and consumers trusted volunteer-collected data more than government-collected data. Collectors and consumers both recognized multiple scientific, environmental, and social benefits associated with the project, and both were equally likely to use volunteer-collected data for a variety of purposes, such as informing decisions about conservation and recreation. Importantly, both groups were equally likely to undertake a suite of conservation behaviors. We synthesize and expand current conceptual frameworks of citizen science participation and outcomes, highlighting the need for further study to understand mechanisms and linkages between the varied activities of citizen science projects and broader social and ecological impacts. To achieve conservation goals, project managers should broaden the definition of participant to include those carrying out activities other than data collection (such as data use) and explicitly manage for potential benefits derived by consumers of citizen science.

Homepage for Citizens’ Water Quality Testing Program, by New York City Water Trail Association

Source: Cooper, C.B. et al., (2017). Contrasting the Views and Actions of Data Collectors and Data Consumers in a Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Project: Implications for Project Design and Management. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. 2(1), p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.82

Abstract: As global warming worsens, addressing environmental health disparities and justice is increasingly important. This necessity is evident in southern metropolitan Tucson, Arizona, an area underserved and disproportionately experiencing the effects of climate change. Including underserved groups in problem solving can spur knowledge generation and the building of community capacity to address and mitigate environmental health challenges posed by climate justice. This article describes a community-based project that utilized a peer education framework coupled with citizen science design. Community health workers (promotoras) were trained in environmental health, climate change, and environmental monitoring protocols to then educate and train families about these same subjects. The study goal was to evaluate science and environmental health learning, awareness, and self-efficacy at the promotora and residential levels resulting from intensive 40-hour trainings, peer education via home visits, and environmental monitoring. Pre- and postsurveys were completed by the promotoras and the families they visited. Motivations for participation as well as changes in self-efficacy and knowledge were analyzed. Results revealed that the promotora’s motivations were primarily internal and they were concerned with health. Using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test (p = .05), it was observed that for both study groups, knowledge of water and energy conservation statistically increased, as well as self-efficacy for environmental action and scientific learning. This article demonstrates that promotoras are critical in environmental health and climate science peer education. These findings can be used to further develop peer education citizen science projects in underserved communities, ensuring that efforts increase participants’ learning, self-efficacy, and enhance social–ecological outcomes.

Source: Sandhaus, S., et al, 2018. Combating Climate Injustices: An Informal Science and Popular Education Approach to Addressing Environmental Health Disparities. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2373379917751476

Abstract: Information on species’ distributions and abundances, environmental associations, and how these change over time are central to the study and conservation of wildlife populations. This information is challenging to obtain at relevant scales across range-wide extents for two main reasons. First, local and regional processes that affect populations vary throughout the year and across species’ ranges, requiring fine-scale, year-round information across broad – sometimes hemispheric – spatial extents. Second, while citizen science projects can collect data at these scales, using these data requires additional steps to address known sources of bias. Here we present an analytical framework to address these challenges and generate year-round, range-wide distributional information using citizen science data. To illustrate this approach, we apply the framework to Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), a long distance Neotropical migrant and species of conservation concern, using data from the citizen science project eBird. We estimate relative occupancy and abundance with enough spatiotemporal resolution to support inference across a range of spatial scales throughout the annual cycle. This includes intra-annual estimates of the range (quantified as the area of occupancy), intra-annual estimates of the associations between species and features of their local environment, and inter-annual season-specific trends in relative abundance. This is the first example of an analysis to capture intra- and inter-annual distributional dynamics across the entire range of a broadly distributed, highly mobile species.

Source: Fink, D., Auer, T., Ruiz-Gutierrez, V., Hochachka, W.M., Johnston, A., La Sorte, F.A., Kelling,
, 2018. Modeling Avian Full Annual Cycle Distribution and Population Trends with Citizen Science Data. Available via bioRxiv. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/251868

Abstract: Citizen science is a rapidly developing research approach, increasing in popularity within the science community and civil society, as well as in the media and among policy-makers (Pettibone et al., 2017). Various attempts to define citizen science have been made (e.g. Irwin, 1995; Bonney et al., 2009; Wiggins & Crowston, 2011; Shirk et al., 2012; Haklay, 2015), most of which encompass a kind of active participation of volunteers in the scientific process. In recent years, networks have played an important role in the development and professionalization of citizen science (Göbel et al., 2017; Storksdieck et al., 2016). In this article, we present an overview of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and Bürger schaffen Wissen (roughly translated to “citizens create knowledge”), an online platform for presenting and networking citizen science projects in Germany.

Source: David Ziegler, D., Mascarenhas, A., 2017. Networks for Citizen Science in Europe and Germany. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society 5(3): 68-71. [http://fofj.org/index.php/journal/article/view/339]

Abstract: This article describes and analyzes the collaborative design of a citizen science research project through cocreation. Three groups of secondary school students and a team of scientists conceived three experiments on human behavior and social capital in urban and public spaces. The study goal is to address how interdisciplinary work and attention to social concerns and needs, as well as the collective construction of research questions, can be integrated into scientific research. The 95 students participating in the project answered a survey to evaluate their perception about the dynamics and tools used in the cocreation process of each experiment, and the five scientists responded to a semistructured interview. The results from the survey and interviews demonstrate how citizen science can achieve a “cocreated” modality beyond the usual “contributory” paradigm, which usually only involves the public or amateurs in data collection stages. This type of more collaborative science was made possible by the adaptation of materials and facilitation mechanisms, as well as the promotion of key aspects in research such as trust, creativity and transparency. The results also point to the possibility of adopting similar codesign strategies in other contexts of scientific collaboration and collaborative knowledge generation.

Source: Senabre, Enric and Ferran-Ferrer, Núria and Perelló, Josep, 2018. Participatory design of citizen science experiments. Comunicar, Vol. 26, n. 54, pp. 29-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3916/C54-2018-03

Abstract: The digitization of biocollections is a critical task with direct implications for the global community who use the data for research and education. Recent innovations to involve citizen scientists in digitization increase awareness of the value of biodiversity specimens; advance science, technology, engineering, and math literacy; and build sustainability for digitization. In support of these activities, we launched the first global citizen-science event focused on the digitization of biodiversity specimens: Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio). During the inaugural 2015 event, 21 sites hosted events where citizen scientists transcribed specimen labels via online platforms (DigiVol, Les Herbonautes, Notes from Nature, the Smithsonian Institution’s Transcription Center, and Symbiota). Many citizen scientists also contributed off-site. In total, thousands of citizen scientists around the world completed over 50,000 transcription tasks. Here, we present the process of organizing an international citizen-science event, an analysis of the event’s effectiveness, and future directions—content now foundational to the growing WeDigBio event.

Source: Ellwood, E.R., et al., 2018. Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio): The Biocollections Community’s Citizen-Science Space on the Calendar. BioScience,Volume 68, Issue 2, p 112-124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix143

Abstract: In an uncertain future of climate change and constrained resources, urban agriculture is widely viewed as a sustainable and scalable approach to improving food security. While its social, health and wellbeing benefits are well documented, there is a major knowledge gap in terms of the financial accessibility of urban food production for all households. The implications are far-reaching: if urban agriculture is purely a middle-class discretionary activity, then it will play a limited role in improving food security on a city-wide scale. While community gardens are relatively well studied, research into the inputs and productivity of individual household food gardens presents profound practical challenges, notably the sheer number of geographically separated gardens, the enormous diversity of garden sizes and types, as well as highly variable cultivation and irrigation techniques. In this paper, we demonstrate that a citizen science approach offers a unique method to overcome many of these research challenges. We report on the Edible Gardens project in South Australia, a citizen science project developed to investigate the inputs (labour, costs and water use), and outputs (produce yields and value) of urban food gardens. Citizen science enables a large cohort of gardeners to measure these inputs and outputs and report on a wide variety of production methods over an extended period of time. We conclude that citizen science is an effective approach for future urban agriculture research.

Source: Pollard, G., Roetman, P., Ward, J., 2017. The case for citizen science in urban agriculture research. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture & Society Vol 3(5): 9-20.

Abstract: Citizen Science, or the participation of non-professional scientists in a scientific project, has a long history—in many ways, the modern scientific revolution is thanks to the effort of citizen scientists. Like science itself, citizen science is influenced by technological and societal advances, such as the rapid increase in levels of education during the latter part of the twentieth century, or the very recent growth of the bidirectional social web (Web 2.0), cloud services and smartphones. These transitions have ushered in, over the past decade, a rapid growth in the involvement of many millions of people in data collection and analysis of information as part of scientific projects. This chapter provides an overview of the field of citizen science and its contribution to the observation of the Earth, often not through remote sensing but a much closer relationship with the local environment. The chapter suggests that, together with remote Earth Observations, citizen science can play a critical role in understanding and addressing local and global challenges.

Source: (Muki) Haklay M., Mazumdar S., Wardlaw J., 2018. Citizen Science for Observing and Understanding the Earth. In: Mathieu PP., Aubrecht C. (eds) Earth Observation Open Science and Innovation. ISSI Scientific Report Series, vol 15. Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65633-5_4