Citizen science (CS) is a freely accessible and meaningful way to explore measure and experiment with the world around you. Also known as community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, voluntary monitoring and networked science, the initiative allows the public to engage with, contribute to and conduct scientific research to broadly increase knowledge. Participation in publicly funded scientific research can allow citizens to play a major role in
- Advancing science within society,
- Accelerate the process of discovery, and
- Contribute to a sustainable future.
By doing science together, resources and expertise can be combined to raise awareness for lasting socio-economic solutions. The global outreach of CS is continuously and rapidly growing. If you are a concerned resident, a student, an entrepreneur, educator, a pensioner, arts-science-technology enthusiast, public official, funder, passerby, tinkerer or observer looking for opportunities to contribute to science, the following list of projects is arranged by geographic location. A few ongoing and previous projects for Science in Society are detailed on EuroScientist.
Citizen Science in Europe
The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) is a non-profit association aimed at encouraging the growth of citizen science across Europe. The agency promotes sustainability through citizen science, to build a think tank and develop participation across Europe while collaborating globally. Active projects are listed on the official website.
Doing It Together Science (DITOs) is an EU citizen science project coordinated by Extreme Citizen Science (ExCites) at the University College London (UCL). The activities are focused on two main themes of biodesign and environmental sustainability. The ongoing project is developed in collaboration with 11 partnering institutions and sponsored by the EU Horizon 2020 for European public engagement with science and innovation.
The consortium includes science galleries, museums and arts organisations; volunteers can contribute to the CS research fields in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBIN). Volunteers can find further information via the DITOS contact form.
The Butterfly Conservation runs schemes to record and monitor the insects as extremely valuable indicators of the state of the environment in the UK/Europe. Beginners and experienced recorders can contribute to support conservation. Sightings of the Red Admiral migratory butterfly colonising Central and North Europe currently require the help of citizen science and can be reported via a national or regional citizen science portal.
Citizen Science in America
Citizenscience.gov is an official US government initiative to assist federal agencies to accelerate innovation through public participation. The site provides portals for volunteers to explore active projects;. Participants can browse 425 projects.
The landslide catalogue is for volunteers around the world to help scientists build the largest open Landslide Reporter. You can submit landslide information, specifying location through the online portal to support decisions and help NASA scientists build the Cooperative Open Online Landslide Repository (COOLR) to save lives.
The endangered Steller sea lion requires the help of citizen science to discover new information by reviewing their images captured via the Steller Watch project. Scientists have tracked sea lions individually with automated camera detection; to prevent species decline in the Aleutian Islands, you can classify the images on site for biologists to review.
Credit: Citizen Science at Work, NOAA fisheries, Steller Watch.
The Evolution Project is supported by the National Science Foundation with an international volunteer base. Citizen scientists can help scientists build the genealogy of all species living and extinct by joining a science team.
Citizen Science in Australia
The Australian Citizen Science Association launched by the Queensland Museum in Brisbane in May 2014 envisions a community that supports, develops and informs science. The project is funded by the Commonwealth Government grant in partnership with the Australian Museum. Active projects are available online for volunteer participation.
Upside-down Jellyfish in Lake Macquarie is a CS project by the University of Sydney that documents the distribution and seasonal patterns of Cassiopea in Lake Macquarie. Citizen scientists are required to get involved by recording the location (GPS coordinates) and time of species observation using a phone or laptop either at Lake Macquarie or in nearby coastal lakes.
Bees in the ‘burbs is the use of bee hotels (globally) and native bee observations (Western Australia) to conserve native bees. Instructions on getting involved are available online.
The Australian Museum also provides a separate platform for citizen science; volunteers can get involved in exciting projects. DigiVol is a museum volunteer digitization project to assist scientists and public learn about the Earth’s biodiversity. The ANSTO feather map project collaborates with the University of New South Wales to analyze feathers of native waterbirds. The Guardian interactive portal also connects citizens with science projects around Australia.
Citizen Science in Asia
CitizenScience.Asia is a grassroots initiative aimed at building a community focused on scientific awareness and outreach. Volunteers can contribute to global air quality monitoring initiatives and monitor rainfall measurements in Nepal with a smart phone. Events circulate in South East Asia for volunteer participation as available onsite.
The Urban Wetland Conservation Project is a citizen science initiative of the Field Ornithology Group, at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka (FOGSL). The project is funded by the United Nations, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and allows citizen scientists to monitor and collect data in selected urban wetlands, develop biological sustainability and conserve biodiversity. Interested volunteers can contact the FOGSL office to contribute.
Biodiversity Atlas – India species-based bioinformatics platforms designed to aggregate, display and analyze biodiversity data from South Asia including India. Volunteers can register and contribute to an active conservation project, to monitor a variety of species, including moths, odonata and birds onsite.
Citizen Science in Africa
South African initiatives on citizen science are focused on biodiversity and conservation. The Animal Demography unit of the University of Cape Town lists a series of ongoing and past projects.
South African Bird Atlas (2) project is based across South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia to monitor the future of the native species by collecting data on the distribution and density of the population. The project is active for interested volunteers.
A similar conservation attempt is underway by the South African Bird Ringing Unit to record dates and location of sighted tagged wild birds. Citizen scientists can record observations online.
The Coordinated Avifaunal Road-counts (CAR) works to protect endangered wildlife. Volunteers who enjoy bird counting in the car routes of South Africa are invited to follow a designated route and monitor trends in the populations and habitat of more than 30 species of bird.
Thamarasee Maheshika Jeewandara
Featured image credit: © OECD/IEA 2015 World Energy Outlook, IEA Publishing