My colleagues and I spend our days asking questions about the impact of citizen science and turning answers into more questions. They are usually on the order of “What is the change/difference in impact when using citizen science to solve a problem with respect to using other approaches?” or “What is the effect of greenwashing in global impact when a local citizen-science initiative teams up with a corporation causing pollution elsewhere?” Which is how we’ve come to create MICS Labs, where we unleash citizen-science researchers Stephen “Parky” Parkinson, Sasha Woods and James Sprinks, with support from graphic designers, beta testers, number crunchers and assorted obsessives, to explore everything we never knew we needed to know about impact assessment.

We argue that as we gain access to ever more complex information, it becomes harder and harder to find the meaning of it. MICS Labs showcases what we are learning about impact from the initial interaction with several projects. We are sharing this with you in advance of the launch of the full MICS platform, later this year. We use data in new ways here; those data that are not often seen as the most exciting thing in the world. For many of us, the word “data” conjures up spreadsheets, scientific papers and debates about privacy. For MICS Labs, “data” means any sort of project information that can be represented quantitatively and analysed by a computer: the EU-Citizen.Science characterisation of citizen science, but also the MoRRI metrics, the indicators used by Defra, and the measures of success that can influence the human feeling of impact.

Stay tuned...

Luigi Ceccaroni, scientific coordinator


THE TWO WORDS EACH CITIZEN-SCIENCE PROJECT WANTS YOU TO REMEMBER

  • Mars Giffs

  • Mars in Motion

    The Citizen Science component of the iMars project, Mars in Motion, was created through the Zooniverse's Panoptes framework to allow volunteers to look for and identify changes on the surface of Mars over time. 'Mars in Motion' has been developed to complement the results of automated data mining analysis software, both by validation through the creation of training data and by adding context - gathering more in-depth data on the type and metrics of change initially detected.


  • Quality water

  • Citclops

    The Citclops project developed systems to retrieve and use data on seawater colour, transparency and fluorescence, using low-cost sensors combined with people acting as data carriers, contextual information (e.g. georeferencing) and a community-based Internet platform, taking into account existing experiences (e.g. Secchi Dip-In, Coastwatch Europe and Oil Reporter).

    Methods were developed to rapidly capture the optical properties of seawater, e.g.: colour through Forel-Ule observations, and transparency through a variant of the Secchi disc. People are able to acquire data taking photographs of the sea surface on ferries or other vessels, on the open sea or from the beach.


  • Urban health

  • CitieS-Health

    The aim of the Citizen Science Project on Urban Environment and Health (CitieS-Health) is to develop an effective citizen science model at the maximum collaboration level. The project currently works on developing citizen science projects in five diverse European cities (Barcelona, Kaunas, Ljubljana, Amsterdam, Lucca), assessing urban air and noise pollution, wood burning, urban design and mobility at local levels. An innovative aspect of CitieS-Health is studying the link between these exposures and health impacts. Citizens participate in defining research questions, designing and implementing studies, and analysing, interpreting and communicating results. The projects are currently working to build the first open toolkit for the development and promotion of citizen science projects in urban environment and health. The project also focuses on co-designing a set of governance principles and procedures to allow participants’ control over project data and outcomes, including the development of indicators to assess the project's impacts on different sectors.


  • Global stewardship

  • FreshWater Watch

    Earthwatch created FreshWater Watch in 2012 after identifying a need for a simple, accessible and affordable tool to collect missing data on water quality, to enable more scientific research to be carried out across the globe, and to enable local communities to drive changes in their local environment.

    FreshWater Watch is a global science-based methodology and platform for freshwater quality monitoring. Earthwatch works in partnership with local organisations, engages key stakeholders including government, and equips communities with the kits, knowledge and skills to monitor their local water bodies.

    The data collected by these groups acts as an early warning system, identifying areas of chronic pollution and declining ecosystem health and enabling prompt and targeted mitigation efforts. Additionally, FreshWater Watch enables communities to connect with their local freshwater bodies, which promotes responsible water use and stewardship.


  • Biodiverse communities

  • Naturehood

    Naturehood is a new community project that brings people together to support the nature on their doorstep. 'Naturehoods’ are focused areas where people support local wildlife. As well as taking action as individuals, people in Naturehoods can participate in free community engagement events, including wildlife walks, talks and family-friendly wildlife workshops. 

    To be able to demonstrate the impact of their Naturehood actions, we are also asking people to carry out surveys about the animals visiting their gardens. This will provide our scientists with valuable data about how effective certain actions are, so that in the future, we can encourage more of the actions that have the biggest positive effect on wildlife.

    The first phase of the project, which began in 2019, started with the creation of four Naturehoods in Oxford and Swindon. Naturehood is led by Earthwatch Europe in partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824711.

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