Over the past years, we witnessed a boom of citizen science projects spanning across many sectors, from natural sciences to art history. Citizen science is a method using public participation in conducting scientific research. Wide use of and easy access to technology has further enabled citizens’ participation and enabled borderless collaborations.
Organisations, including public authorities, have been using citizens science in helping them address societal needs and accelerating science, technology, and innovation through voluntary participation of the public in the process.
Citizens might play different roles based on their interests, availability and technological resources.
They contribute to addressing societal problems through different activities including
and consequently, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications. Moreover, participation in these exercises also increases the public’s understanding of science, while allowing the democratisation of science.
One can help astronomers to locate and identify supermassive black holes, measure air quality and help to advocate for cleaner air or identify plants by taking pictures to monitor plant biodiversity around the world. Bird sightings can contribute to conservation decisions and help inform bird research worldwide and games have been developed to help classify artworks as well as help advance neuroscience.
Citizen science is enjoying huge popularity in biodiversity studies, natural and environmental sciences. Citizens can collect data simply by using their phones and dedicated apps to contribute to monitoring, protection of species and/or natural phenomenon and research on various topics worldwide. Many projects exist at regional, national and international level, including observations of species from butterflies to sharks, bleaching of coral reefs, monitoring water and air quality or light pollution.
But citizen science can also be used in other fields, such as health & medicine, transport & mobility, disaster management, ICT, etc.