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Citizen Science

2019-01-15T08:59:10+00:00By |News|
  • Is it reinventing science?
  • There are important uses – for example in cancer
  • People become really engaged in the science
  • It is currently the new buzzword for data collection by the public
  • Waitrose has a citizen science bee app
  • What are the potential uses in agriculture?
  • British Science Association

Recently the British Science Association’s Science Communication conference held a workshop on citizen science. See the Conference report.

Examples of Citizen Science:

Harlequin Ladybird

The spread of the American Harlequin ladybird

Ash die-back

The University of East Anglia launched an App to the survey of Ash Die Back in the space of a weekend: ASHtag being substantially faster than Government bodies to react. Media response was enormous. 22 thousand visits to Ashtag.org, 1 thousand pictures geo-tagged and 12 thousand downloads of the app.

Conker trees

A disease that affects Conker trees is having a devastating effect across the country: for further information click here  and here  

An app was developed with pictures of affected leaves. It was member of the public who noticed the predation of the caterpillars by birds – which is being followed up as a research question: “can bird control help?” Crowd sourcing is used for validation of updated photos.

OPAL soil and earthworm survey

500,000 people have taken part with 25,000 sites

Identifying species can be difficult, however 98% of adults can identify easy species and 65% can identify more difficult species.

Stargazing live

Brian Cox! Lots of info and things to do and packs of information. Also has a nice section on “jobs with the stars”.

Waitrose Bee app

Waitrose’s bee APP please click here

Broader picture

Citizen Science is taking science ‘out of the lab and into the streets’ claims an article in 29 June’s New Scientist where teenagers are building robots, mothers checking genomes, giving our data to international projects about our health.

It is about opening science to the public and the public, the crowd, being involved in the science. It is also not solely environmental issues or stargazing that are being tackled by the public. It is tackling serious topics such as cancer: e.g. cellslider  where 1,586,024 images have been analysed. After a brief online training you can spot and count the number of cancer cells. Many people view the images to achieve accuracy.

Uses in agriculture

The identification and spread of disease are possibilities for both plants and animals. Perhaps the crowd could be used in more in the lab, such as pathology? Apps are already using the embedded camera to identify plants and weeds and these can be time and location tagged easily by phone and tablets.

This could quite easily be translated as a concept as “FarmScience”. In many respects some of these types of initiative have been undertaken as surveys, however we could involve farmers and the public to a greater extent. For example this could encourage huge engagement with television programmes such as Countryfile.