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Into the Night - Technology for citizen science

Current citizen science seems effortless...just download an app and start using it. However, there are many technical aspects that are necessary to make a citizen science project work. In this session, we will provide an overview of all the technical elements that are required - from the process of designing an app., to designing and managing a back-end system, to testing the system end to end before deployment. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a short exercise to consider the design of an app for a citizen science project that addresses light pollution.

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Into the Night - Technology for citizen science

  1. 1. Technology in Environmental Citizen Science projects Muki Haklay Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group, UCL @mhaklay
  2. 2. Outline • Technology role within citizen science projects • Sensors, apps, web – front end technologies • Databases, volunteer management, project management – back end • Platforms for communication – social media, blogs • Project management
  3. 3. Citizen Science overview Citizen Science Long running Citizen Science Ecology & biodiversity Meteorology Marine Citizen Cyberscience Volunteer computing Volunteer thinking Passive Sensing Community Science Participatory sensing DIY Science Civic Science Haklay, M., 2013, Citizen Science and Volunteered Geographic Information – overview and typology of participation in Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge
  4. 4. • Reaching out to potential participants • Providing a structure to data collection processes • Supporting crowdsourcing and micro- tasking (both data collection & analysis) • Managing data & ensuring data quality • Communication and support for volunteers • Project management Technology in citizen science
  5. 5. WHAT THE PARTICIPANTS SEE & USE Technologies for citizen science
  6. 6. Sensing
  7. 7. Mapping for Change
  8. 8. NoiseWatch • Developed by Microsoft in collaboration with the European Environment Agency in 2011 • Provide a simple form of recording level of sound and indicating what was recorded
  9. 9. Sensing comparison • Known instrument • Pros – Known performance & calibration – Limited functionality in devices • Cons – Specialised recording – Costs – Learning how to operate • Smartphone • Pros – Available, people are familiar with it – Storage, communication • Cons – Variability in performance – Operating systems, versions, specific devices
  10. 10. Experimenting with Sensing
  11. 11. • Can work on different devices: laptops, different types of phones • Limited access to device sensors Apps: web
  12. 12. Web app: volunteer thinking • Different platforms provide variable functionality
  13. 13. Apps: mobile • Required specific development for each phone operating system type (Android, iOS, Windows) in addition to web app • Interface design and user experience issues can be significant
  14. 14. Apps: reusing existing platforms
  15. 15. Recruitment Personal goals Location context alerts
  16. 16. Micro task Immediate feedback System feedback
  17. 17. Ongoing incentives / motivations
  18. 18. MANAGING INFORMATION & PARTICIPATION Technologies for citizen science
  19. 19. -Mapping for Change: UCL’s first Social Enterprise -Usability Incorporation for Simplified Interface/ Structure -New Technologies: Leaflet, Angular, HTML5 MfC Community Maps
  20. 20. -Open Source Web API: User Management, Storage and Translation -Highly Extensible -New Technologies: Django, HTML5, PostGIS GeoKey –community mapping infrastructure
  21. 21. Using existing platform
  22. 22. ArcGIS Online and Survey123
  23. 23. Open Data Kit (ODK) • Free and open-source set of tools • Build data collection forms • Collect data on a mobile device • Aggregate the collected data Michalis Vitos, ExCiteS
  24. 24. - Sapelli: Pictograms and Decision Trees -Open Source Android App -Designed to work with non literate and illiterate participants Sapelli
  25. 25. Platforms for Citizen Science
  26. 26. Nature observation platforms
  27. 27. • Technical abilities and development time – platforms offer different level of flexibility to change • Evaluate platforms through pilot studies (end-to-end) • Costs – paying for a commercial or academic platforms, or costs of development and maintenance Platforms
  28. 28. Recruitment & communication
  29. 29. • Mailing newsletters – Mailchimp • Blog –, • Events –, • Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… Platform for communication
  30. 30. Analytics - evaluation
  31. 31. • Identify platforms for project management – Basecamp, Trello, Slack • Code & data management – BitBucket, GitHub • Document sharing: DropBox, Google Drive • Integration and procedures Project management
  32. 32. • Based on the systems and principles that we’ve covered, sketch the basic information system and technologies that can be used for citizen science project on light pollution • Discuss the front-end, back-end and communication aspects Your turn!