How Citizen Scientists Are Revolutionizing Data Collection
Throughout the world, citizen scientists are developing tools to better manage world’s resources. Meet four such innovators who will be featured in an upcoming data innovation showcase in Abu Dhabi.
Our work has the potential to inform urban populations of the health impacts of air pollution, which is now recognized as the world’s most pressing environmental and human health threat.
This week, The White House hosted a live-webcast forum on citizen science and crowdsourcing, indicating the scale at which open science and innovation is becoming the new reality in data science. Next week, four dynamic teams using crowdsourcing technology from the Congo Basin to the Peruvian Rainforest will present at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi October 6–8, 2015. They’ll showcase their work and emphasize the importance of data in measuring not only progress towards sustainable development but also ways to hold companies and governments accountable. During the Summit, the winner of the Citizen Science Challenge will be announced.
- Airscapes Singapore, crowdsourcing air pollution
With her team at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, Environmental Epidemiologist Marguerite Nyhan visualizes crowdsourced air quality data so people can make informed decisions about their daily habits and avoid exposure to high levels of pollution. “Our work has the potential to inform urban populations of the health impacts of air pollution, which is now recognized as the world’s most pressing environmental and human health threat,” says Nyhan. Her project, Airscapes Singapore, is the winner of the Data Visualization Challenge for the Eye on Earth Summit.
- Logging roads in the Congo Basin Rainforest
In the Congo Basin, geography students, activists, scientists and local officials are using crowdsourcing to monitor forests. Leo Bottrill is the Founder and project leader at Moabi, an organization that collaboratively monitors natural resource use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through Moabi’s leadership, citizen mappers have made over 5,000 edits to a crowdsourced map of logging roads on OpenStreetMap , an open geographic database. “The validated DRC logging roads provide a vital dataset to determine whether logging companies have committed violations,” Bottrill explains.
- Hack the Rainforest, combining new technology with indigenous wisdom
Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, indigenous communities are also holding governments and companies accountable for illegal logging and oil contaminations. The team at Hack the Rainforest is bringing together environmental monitors and collaborating with software developers and designers to prototype a mobile data collection app to monitor environmental abuses in remote areas. “This iterative design process is improving how local communities gather evidence of oil spills, deforestation and illegal mining,” say Emily Jacobi of Digital Democracy.
- Biocaching, Hyperlocal Biodiversity Data Collection Game
Say you’re walking with your kids in the woods and come across an interesting plant or insect, you take a photo and upload it to Biocaching, a data game that allows your information to be shared with national and international databases. “Your single sighting of an insect may not seem to have scientific significance,” says Bjørn Hjelle, Founder of Biocaching. “But as part of a larger dataset each observation is a valuable contribution to big data analytics performed by scientists to discover trends and to better understand the dynamics of nature,” Hjelle adds.
All four teams are available for interviews. For booking interviews, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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