The Citizen Science Center Zürich is developing a platform that will make it easy for scientists and citizens to contribute to existing Citizens Science projects, or create new ones. The platform includes two components: a web interface and a mobile (smartphone) application.
The web component is used mainly for projects that involve the analysis data in the form of images, including image recognition and tagging, mapping, transcription of digitalized text, etc. These are tasks that can usually be best completed on a computer screen.
Example: Geo Tag X, in collaboration with the UN Institute for Training and Research, investigated together with volunteer citizens how to extract for images information on the effects of drought on animals. geotagx.org
The mobile component (smartphone App) is used mainly for data collection, and allows to capture and tag geo-located images, survey answers, and other type on media, such as video and sound.
Example: To escalate the global fight against mosquito-borne diseases, The Global Mosquito Alert will ask volunteers to use a smartphone app to snap pictures of mosquitos and their breeding sites. mosquitoalert.com
Both components contribute data to a shared database, so it will be easy to link web and mobile projects.
The work is carried out as open source software (see our GitHub repository) which means that it takes advantage of existing and similar developments, and it’s code is also publicly available for similar implementations. The platform is developed in full cooperation with the department S3IT (Service and Support for Science IT) of the University of Zurich.
We see ourselves as a platform and a meeting point for people interested in Citizen Science and participatory research to exchange ideas and knowledge between academia and the wider public.
We offer compelling projects to participate in.
We connect people.
We foster dialogue.
We generate new ideas coming from different perspectives.
We ask real world questions.
We create new citizen science projects together.
Our Citizen Science Community is growing and spans Zurich and beyond. By reaching out to local communities we have already organized an initial network of potential citizen scientists including members of the Zurich senior university and persons listed in the universities research participant pools.
Meeting new people and being part of a community is one of the key benefits of Citizen Science, and a strong motivation for people to join projects, and our activities are shaped around our members. They include online and offline interactions and local events, in an open, creative and interdisciplinary way. We invite you to visit our forum (coming soon) and discuss topics you are interested in.
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The Center helps scientists and citizens who wants to start a project to take full advantage of the available knowledge in the field of Citizen Science, while developing new one based on its activities.
Public participation in scientific research is not a new concept; the National Audubon Society started its annual Christmas Bird Count in 1900 (more than 75000 citizens participated in 2017!), and in the last century amateur scientists have participated in projects to monitor water quality, search new stars, study biodiversity.
By experimenting with procedures, testing protocol, and sharing best practices, practitioners in all fields have developed what is now a solid methodology. Principles and protocols exist today, and the Center’s team is here to help scientists and citizens setup and run projects that guarantee excellent scientific results.
However, Citizen Science is an evolving field with multiple dimensions, including quality, sustainability, transparency, inclusiveness, and more. As all fields of science, it requires continuous research and exploration, that the Center’s researcher will carry on to guarantee the development of appropriate tools and new knowledge.