The MICS UK case study kicked off 2021 by inviting citizen scientists and the project coordinators involved in Outfall Safari to a series of virtual workshop to discuss their thoughts and understanding regarding the ‘impacts’ of the project.
What is Outfall Safari?
Outfall Safari is an innovative citizen science method for locating, assessing the impact of, and reporting on polluted surface water outfalls. Polluting surface water outfalls often occur when household appliances are incorrectly plumbed, ‘misconnected’, into surface water drains, which flow directly into rivers. Citizens use an app to score outfalls based on the appearance and flow. The polluting outfall scores are reported to local water companies who work to trace misconnected pipes to remedy pollution hotspots.
Since Outfall Safari began in 2016 over 200 citizen scientists have been involved in surveying over 150 km of rivers across Greater London. The project helps raise awareness of misconnections, collect valuable data and helps water companies target efforts to reduce pollution and improve our rivers.
More information about Outfall Safari can be found here: Outfall Safari Guide and Resource Pack.
Outfall Safari is used to locate and assess the impact of polluting surface water outfalls. Source: Zoological Society of London (ZSL), 2017.
The workshop series
A series of 3 virtual workshops were held to explore the impacts of Outfall Safari with citizen scientists and coordinators involved in the project. Despite not being able to meet in-person all three workshops received good attendance and we were able to hold some interesting discussions regarding project impact!
Creating an Impact Journey for Outfall Safari
The first 2 workshops entailed activities designed to develop an ‘impact journey’. An impact journey is essentially a map that details the impacts of a project and the actions or steps that contribute to achieving them. Separate workshops were held with citizen scientists and project coordinators to get both viewpoints on the impacts of Outfall Safari. The MICS project explores the impact of citizen science activities on five domains – Environment, Governance, Science & Technology, Society, and Economy – and participants were asked to link impacts to one or more of these domains.
Following these workshops, the MICS project partners synthesised the impact journey maps, grouping impacts under broad headings.
Six long-term impacts of the Outfall Safari project were identified:
- Wider public awareness / changing attitudes of polluting outfalls
- Improved river water quality and habitat
- Improved decision making regarding polluting outfalls
- Improved Policies / Legislation
- Business Creation
- Increased institutional knowledge in how to run effective citizen science project
Monitoring the impacts of Outfall Safari
The final workshop in the series brought together citizen scientists and project coordinators to agree upon a combined and simplified version of the impact journey, and to identify which impacts were of priority to monitor. We then discussed how these selected impacts could be monitored, who could be involved and what resources may be required.
Over the coming months the MICS project hopes to help the coordinators of Outfall Safari formulate an impact monitoring program for their project.