An Ecosystem of Citizen Observatories for environmental monitoring
Rising trends in Citizen Science have led to the development of Citizen Observatories (COs) focused on engaging citizens in environmental monitoring across Europe. These initiatives are widely supported by the European Commission under two main research and innovation funding programmes, FP7 and H2020 .
WeObserve is an H2020 Coordination and Support Action, which tackles three key challenges that Citizens Observatories (COs) face: awareness, acceptability and sustainability. The project aims to improve the coordination between existing COs and related regional, European and international activities. The WeObserve mission is to create a sustainable ecosystem of COs that can systematically address these identified challenges and help to move citizen science into the mainstream. The specific WeObserve objectives can be summarised as follows:
- Develop communities of practice around key topics to assess the current CO knowledge base and strengthen it to tackle future environmental challenges using CO-driven science
- Extend the geographical coverage of the CO knowledge base to new communities and support the implementation of best practices and standards across multiple sectors
- Demonstrate the added value of COs in environmental monitoring mechanisms within regional and global initiatives such as GEOSS, Copernicus and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Promote the uptake of information from CO-powered activities across various sectors and foster new opportunities and innovation in the business of in-situ earth observation
The WeObserve project will run for three years, starting from 1 December 2017 and brings together a strong consortium of 7 partners, built upon the four H2020 CO projects, namely the Ground Truth 2.0, the GROW, the LandSense and the Scent projects, with strong links to a wide range of networks (i.e ECSA), users and stakeholders, such as GEO and Copernicus, (CREAF) which have active roles within the project. WeObserve also has strong ties to the previously funded FP7 COs through the members of its Expert Advisory Board. A core function of WeObserve will be to bring these different stakeholders together in different interactive events to create a welcoming spirit and proliferate citizen science across various communities. The WeObserve process and its anticipated outcomes will have considerable potential to create a step-change in participatory environmental monitoring.
ICCS is the leader of the WeObserve Dissemination, Communication and Awareness creation effort (WP5) and thus responsible for the development and implementation of the Dissemination, Exploitation and Communication Plan of the project. ICCS will also lead the development of the WeObserve knowledge platform, linking this to the Citizen Observatories Portal (www.citizen-obs.eu) and the organisation of the project events namely the Hackathon, the two CO for EO workshops and the final WeObserve conference.
Additionally, ICCS will also:
- Contribute to the mapping of the EU landscape of COs, the Communities of Practice (CoPs) and the development of the CO ‘Cookbook’. ICCS will lead one of the five CoPs.
- Contribute to the development of the WeObserve toolkits and MOOC, and participate in capacity development activities and road shows.
- Help to forge strong links with GEO and the OGC, and participate in the Copernicus pilot.