Citizen Science is the voluntary participation of non-professional scientists in research and innovation. It has a huge potential to improve research and its outcomes, reinforce transparency and societal trust in science, increase the relevance and effectiveness of research by aligning it with the needs and values of society. Citizen Science “presents the means for open, holistic and participatory processes of knowledge generation”, and should therefore be acknowledged as an important pillar of Open Science. Citizen science is an important part of the EU policy -- citizen engagement is one of the pillars of the Von der Leyen Commission’s New Push for European Democracy and participatory decision-making, of the EU’s Open Science policy priority and the European Research Area.
ITC has a long history of working with communities to empower them through geospatial technologies and has a diverse portfolio of projects engaging the general public. To give a few examples, we have experience in involving volunteers in the damage mapping for fast disaster response, in modelling natural phenomena such as tick activity with crowdsourced data, in working jointly with communities to tackle local environmental challenges, in collaborating with active citizens and NGOs to better understand and manage urban ecosystem services.
We are currently consolidating this multifaceted expertise to make our contribution to the advancement of citizen science in two major ways. First, we are actively sharing our expertise in participatory approaches and geospatial tools with researchers in other fields such as health. Given the increasing availability of the spatial component in various types of data and the opportunities it opens, it is crucial that these opportunities are addressed with an adequate level of expertise. Second, we design and promote workflows where citizens are not solely passive “data sensors”, but “co-create” citizen science projects and participate in all aspects of research design. If you would like to learn more about Citizen Science at ITC and the UT, our blog post about the Citizen Science Conference might be a helpful entry point.
Figure from Vohland, K. and Göbel, C. 2017. Open Science and Citizen Science – a symbiotic relationship?. TATuP - Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis. 26, 1-2 (Aug. 2017), 18-24. DOI:https://doi.org/10.14512/tatup.26.1-2.18 and adapted by Wehn, U. et al. 2020. Global Citizen Science perspectives on Open Science. Written input by the CSGP Citizen Science & Open Science Community of Practice to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.