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Thursday, 31 March 2022 14:51

Earthwatch researchers present new paper on how technology boosts citizen science data used to monitor Sustainability Development Goals

Earthwatch researchers have led on the publication of a new paper entitled “How Networks of Citizen Observatories Can Increase the Quality and Quantity of Citizen-Science-Generated Data Used to Monitor SDG Indicators” in the Sustainability journal.  

“There is a growing acknowledgement that citizen observatories, and other forms of citizen-generated data, have a significant role in tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This is evident in the increasing number of Sustainable Development Goals’ indicators for which such data are already being used and in the high-level recognition of the potential role that citizen science can play.” 

The paper describes how technology developed by the Cos4Cloud project – including Pl@ntNet API (enabling citizen observatories to integrate automatic plant identification features very easily into their apps) and Cos4Bio (a service that integrates biodiversity observations from multiple citizen observatories in one place) – can support networks of citizen observatories to increase the quality and quantity of their data in three main ways: 

  • by capitalising on the interoperability of data, leading to larger, integrated and more useful data sets 
  • by building on co-design approaches, involving and combining the citizens’ and researchers’ experience and expertise throughout the project’s life cycle 
  • and by feeding and supporting the education and learning experience of building on, participating in and contributing to sustainable development and global citizenship 

The paper discusses how these supported networks of citizen observatories, enhanced by the actions of Cos4Cloud, can be more effective at contributing to SDG monitoring, at a societal and political level, and concludes that “by raising awareness of the challenges we face and the remedial measures that individuals can take, citizen science is a pathway to motivating society to act towards a more sustainable future”. 

The Pl@ntNet-API by Cos4Cloud

Sasha Woods, Researcher for Impact and Innovation at Earthwatch Europe, took the lead on this paper. Contributions were also made by Earthwatch’s Innovation Lead, Luigi Ceccaroni, and external project partners. 

The paper is important because it highlights the advantages of citizen observatories and citizen-generated data: educating and informing citizen scientists about the Sustainable Development Goals and co-creating solutions to the global challenges they address. 

Sasha Woods, Researcher for Impact and Innovation at Earthwatch

Cos4Cloud is a European Horizon 2020 project with the aim of boosting citizen science technologies. It addresses one of the biggest challenges of citizen science: the quantity and quality of data, as well as maintaining the citizen observatories used to collect this data.  

Read the paper in Sustainability.




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