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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I025278/1
Title: 'Extreme' Citizen Science - ExCiteS
Principal Investigator: Haklay, Professor M(
Other Investigators:
Lewis, Dr J
Researcher Co-investigators:
Project Partners:
Citizen Cyberscience Centre Environmental Systems Research Helveta Ltd.
Royal Geographical Society with IBG u-blox UK ltd. University of California Santa Barbara
Department: Civil Environmental and Geomatic Eng
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 26 September 2011 Ends: 25 September 2016 Value (£): 1,065,346
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Oct 2010 Challenging Engineering PES 2010 Deferred
13 Dec 2010 Challenging Engineering PES Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Citizen Science - the participation of amateurs, volunteers and enthusiasts in scientific projects - is not new, given activities such as the Christmas Bird Watch or the British Trust for Ornithology Survey, in which volunteers observe birds and report to a national repository. Such projects date back to the early 20th century, and many of the temperature records used in climate modelling today have been collected by amateur enthusiasts operating their own weather stations. Over the past decade, Web 2.0 technologies have led to the proliferation of Citizen Science activities, from SETI@Home, where people volunteer their unused computer processing power, to Galaxy Zoo, where amateur astronomers suggest interpretations of images from the Hubble telescope, to the Pepys Estate in Deptford, London, where residents carried out community noise monitoring for six weeks to challenge the activities of a local scrapyard operator. However, the current range of Citizen Science projects is limited in several respects. First, in most instances the participants are trusted only as passive participants (by donating CPU cycles), or as active participants, but limited to basic observation and data collection. They do not participate in problem definition or in the scientific analysis itself. Second, there is an implicit assumption that participants will have a relatively advanced level of education. Third, and largely because of the educational requirements, Citizen Science occurs mostly in affluent places, and therefore most of the places that are critical for encouraging biodiversity conservation, and where population growth is most rapid, are effectively excluded. This proposal challenges this current mode of Citizen Science by suggesting the establishment of an interdisciplinary research group that will focus on 'Extreme' Citizen Science (ExCiteS). ExCiteS is extreme in three ways: first, it aims to develop the theories and methodologies to allow any community to start a Citizen Science project that will deal with the issues that concern them - from biodiversity to food production; second, it will provide a set of tools that can be used by any user, regardless of their level of literacy, to collect, analyse and act on information by using established scientific methods; finally, it aims to use the methodologies of Citizen Science around the globe, by developing a technology, through collaborative activities, that can involve communities from housing estates in London to hunter-gatherers and forest villagers in the Congo Basin. The underlying technology is aimed to be universal and to provide the foundations for many other projects and activities. The technology that will be developed will rely on spatial and geographical representations of information. The reason for focusing on this mode of representation is that, as a form of human communication, geographical representations predate text, and are likely to be accessible by many people with limited reading and technology literacy.ExCiteS has the transformative potential to deal with some of the major sustainability challenges involved in using science and Information and Communication Technologies in a hot (due to climate change), flat (due to globalisation) and crowded (due to population increase) world, by creating tools that will help communities understand their environment as it changes, and manage it by using scientific modelling and management methods. The proposal focuses not only on the development of ExCiteS as a practice, but, significantly, on developing a fundamental understanding of Citizen Science by studying the motivation of participants and their incentives, identifying patterns of data collection, and dealing with the uncertainty and validity of data collected in this way.
Key Findings
No information has been submitted for this grant.
Potential use in non-academic contexts
No information has been submitted for this grant.
Impacts
Description The concept of 'Extreme Citizen Science' is starting to appear in academic publications. These are reports and papers that would not consider the extension of the term to the way that we have developed it. Examples include: Dickinson, Janis L., et al. "The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10.6 (2012): 291-297. Roy, H. E., Pocock, M. J. O., Preston, C. D., Roy, D. B., Savage, J., Tweddle, J. C., & Robinson, L. D. (2012). Understanding citizen science and environmental monitoring: final report on behalf of UK Environmental Observation Framework. Ehrlich, P. R., & Ehrlich, A. H. (2012). Solving the human predicament. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 69(4), 557-565.
Summary The term 'Extreme Citizen Science' that was developed within the proposed project is starting to be recognised and used by leading researchers and reports
Date Materialised 25 December 2012
Description The concept of 'Extreme Citizen Science' is starting to appear in academic publications. These are reports and papers that would not consider the extension of the term to the way that we have developed it. Examples include: Dickinson, Janis L., et al. "The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10.6 (2012): 291-297. Roy, H. E., Pocock, M. J. O., Preston, C. D., Roy, D. B., Savage, J., Tweddle, J. C., & Robinson, L. D. (2012). Understanding citizen science and environmental monitoring: final report on behalf of UK Environmental Observation Framework. Ehrlich, P. R., & Ehrlich, A. H. (2012). Solving the human predicament. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 69(4), 557-565.
Summary The concept of 'Extreme Citizen Science' is starting to appear in academic publications. These are reports and papers that would not consider the extension of the term to the way that we have developed it. Examples include: Dickinson, Janis L., et al. "The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10.6 (2012): 291-297. Roy, H. E., Pocock, M. J. O., Preston, C. D., Roy, D. B., Savage, J., Tweddle, J. C., & Robinson, L. D. (2012). Understanding citizen science and environmental monitoring: final report on behalf of UK Environmental Observation Framework. Ehrlich, P. R., & Ehrlich, A. H. (2012). Solving the human predicament. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 69(4), 557-565.
Date Materialised 25 December 2012
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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