The latest issue of the IIASA Options Magazine features citizen science and provides insight into the work of the Earth Observation Systems (EOS) group at IIASA, led by Steffen Fritz. With its focus on citizen science, the EOS group is developing innovative approaches to improve satellite-based land cover products. The article takes us back in time to the beginning of the Geo-Wiki project in 2007. Hardly recognized in its early days, Geo-Wiki has now developed into a massive citizen science hub that brings together more than 15,000 volunteers. Along with Geo-Wiki, Steffen’s group has also grown to 20 members working on 13 different crowd sourcing projects across 12 countries.
As one of these projects, LandSense is involving citizen scientists in pilot cases, each centred on one of three thematic areas, and providing a means for them to contribute to environmental decision making. The project is establishing a Citizen Observatory to aggregate innovative Earth Observation technologies, mobile devices, community-based environmental monitoring, as well as data collection, interpretation and information delivery systems to empower communities in monitoring and reporting on their environments.
“Citizens can monitor change in a way that scientists and governments just can’t. If you make a map every six years you will see change, but if you want to monitor the change as it happens, you need far more data than that.” This, according to LandSense researcher at IIASA, Linda See, is how people can have an impact by taking part in citizen science campaigns.
With the LandSense pilot cases starting in early 2018, citizens will soon have the opportunity to contribute to innovative research endeavours. Stay tuned for updates.