New online platform launched to improve citizen science - Earthwatch

New online platform launched to improve citizen science

A collaborative EU project, Measuring Impact of Citizen Science (MICS), has launched a new online tool designed to help improve citizen-science projects.

The MICS project has developed methods, guidelines and tools to help organisations measure and achieve their impacts through citizen-science programmes. Citizen science – work undertaken by communities to advance science and encourage scientific engagement – is a powerful tool and Earthwatch hope that the MICS platform can be widely used to improve citizen-science project outcomes.  

The launch of the new platform follows four years of development by the MICS project partners: IHE Delft, Alto Adriatico Water Authority, Geonardo, GeoEcoMar and the River Restoration Centre, co-ordinated by Earthwatch Europe, an Oxford-based environmental organisation. The MICS platform helps users to assess a project’s impact on several areas: society, the environment, the economy, governance, and science and technology. The platform can analyse a project at any stage of development and can be used to inform ongoing activities to improve impact. 

The impact-assessment process on the MICS platform includes over 200 questions, each with a pre-defined set of answers that users can choose from. These questions assess hundreds of indicators and are based on current impact-assessment methods and other frameworks such as the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) characteristics of citizen science. Each project’s answers are analysed by an artificial-intelligence algorithm, which generates impact scores. The platform also provides projects with recommendations on improving impact and an assessment of their impact on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The MICS platform is complemented by comprehensive online guidance, which provides insights into the various impacts of citizen science and why it is important to measure them, how citizen-science initiatives can be co-designed for impact, and how to measure their impacts. The users are guided through available resources such as tools, scientific papers, training materials, and networks, and are helped to improve impact assessment.   

Luigi Ceccaroni, the coordinator of the MICS project, says:  

This tool will help ensure that participatory projects are as effective as possible and that individuals, groups and communities involved can have a positive impact on the environments around them. In the UK, MICS worked with two established citizen-science projects – Outfall Safari and Riverfly – to evaluate their impacts.  We want other citizen-science projects to use the platform to assess and hopefully improve their own impact.” 

Earthwatch champions the use of citizen science for positive environmental impact and to address environmental crises. Citizen science is a key feature of most of Earthwatch’s environmental research projects including Tiny Forest tree planting and FreshWater Watch river pollution monitoring.  

Organisations and projects looking to make use of the MICS platform should follow this link: https://mics.tools/

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