Wilson Center’s Science & Technology Innovation Program

Archive for the ‘News and Events’ Category

‘Let Me Google That For You’ Bill Seeks to Abolish the National Technical Information Service Agency

In Commons Lab, Foresight, Governance, News and Events on April 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm

A Google search for the short title of the act, “Let Me Google That For You Act” found 440,000,000 results in 0.75 seconds.


Internet search engines have replaced the need for the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), a federal agency that collects and organizes scientific and technical information derived from government-sponsored research, according to a new Senate bill introduced in early April. The bill, called the “Let Me Google That For You” Act, would strike funding for the NTIS, which is part of the Commerce Department.

The NTIS was created more than 40 years ago as a way to disseminate knowledge from government funded research and reports. The need for NTIS before the onset of the internet age was clear, but today the introduced bill claims, “95 percent of the reports available from sources other than NTIS [are] available free of charge” from a website called, “www.google.com.” Currently the agency receives $67 million dollars in federal funding annually.



Science Magazine Outlines “Next Steps for Citizen Science”

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, News and Events, Reports and Publications on April 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm

As the field of citizen science grows rapidly, multiple factors are emerging to consider and troubleshoot. In a recent article, “Next Steps for Citizen Science,” published in the journal Science, the authors outline a roadmap for the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead as the field begins to emerge.

The authors’ main call is to build capacity in the field through open-source data management and analysis and project management and evaluation services. By fortifying these services, the field can address the skepticism that comes with the nature of non-professional data collection.


Training for data-gathering. Women from Komo (Republic of the Congo) learning to map in the forest, as part of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) Intelligent Maps project. Photo Credit: Gill Conquest, EXCITES, University College London.


One of the many benefits of citizen science are the dual scientific and social goals that can be realized through community-driven research, according to the article. These initiatives capitalize on “under-utilized local knowledge to uncover or regulate air and water quality, deforestation, and rare species distribution questions.” Building infrastructure capacity to maintain these partnerships will strengthen the role science plays in society.

The authors say another challenge is the growing number of citizen science projects. As technology empowers and enables communities to begin their own projects we have seen a proliferation and a variety of repeat projects. This results in either repeat data collection or loss of power in large datasets. To avoid redundancy, the field needs to do a careful inventory of existing projects.

The article ends with an introduction to the newly formed international Citizen Science Association which aims to promote and support best practices in the field. This association could manage a network of regional “Citizen Science Centers” which would aid local projects in data collection, protocol development, data management, analysis and sharing, the authors say.

Check out the full article here:  http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6178/1436.full


Deadline Nears for Presidential Innovation Fellows Program

In Commons Lab, Foresight, Governance, News and Events on March 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

The deadline is looming for the third round of Presidential Innovation Fellows! The third round of the program is focused on addressing three initiatives:

1) Making Digital the Default: Building a 21st Century Veterans Experience

2) Data Innovation: Unleashing the Power of Data Resources to Improve Americans’ Lives

3) By the People, for the People: Crowdsourcing to Improve Government

“This highly-competitive program recruits talented, diverse individuals from the innovation community and pairs them with top civil servants to tackle many of our nation’s biggest challenges, and to achieve a profound and lasting social impact,” according to the White House. Since August 2012, fellows have teamed up with those in government to develop new solutions to all manner of problems.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Applications are due April 7, 2014 — you can start the process here.

And be sure to check out our report on citizen science and government here.


Rise of the Lone Wolves

In Commons Lab, News and Events on March 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

Check out a fascinating piece by Gabriel Weimann, a fellow with the Wilson Center, looking at the phenomenon of “lone wolf terrorism.” Using the Medium platform to pull together Tweets, video, photos and quotes, Weimann looks at how a new generation of terrorists is becoming radicalized on the Internet and how to track these lone wolves before an attack.


“Lone wolf terrorism is the fastest growing kind of terrorism,” writes Weimann. “Recent studies reveal an increased number of countries targeted by lone wolf terrorists, an increased number of fatalities and injuries caused by lone wolves, higher prevalence and success rates for lone wolf attackers than for other types of terrorism, and increased targeting of military personnel.”

Weimann has been studying terrorism and the Internet for more than 15 years.  He further talked about this phenomenon with the Wilson Center’s John Milewski for the NOW program.

Calling all Supporters of Citizen Science! A New Association Wants YOU!

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, News and Events on March 6, 2014 at 8:37 am

sam poster_update

Imagine a world where all people are able to understand, value and participate in science. This is the vision that inspires the Citizen Science Association (CSA), an emerging organization that will support organizers advancing scientific research that involves the public. It isn’t so hard to do. There are many prominent ornithological programs that engage bird watchers in research. These are not the only ones.  There have been many scientific contributions of amateur astronomers. These are not the only ones. Right now, you could look at almost any scientific discipline, and if you look deeply enough and carefully enough you’re going to see some aspects of citizen science happening.

As announced at a February 16th AAAS meeting:

“The CSA is offering free inaugural membership for 2014 to grow, unite, and guide this global community of practice focused on public participation in citizen science. The CSA recognizes all forms of citizen science and focuses on building the community of practice involving those who organize volunteers. Whether organizers are scientists, educators, data managers, technology specialists, evaluators, or enthusiastic volunteers, the CSA welcomes those who want to benefit form a network based on the diverse practices of citizen science.”

The work of building the association is just beginning. While four committees have begun to coordinate planning, the CSA is soliciting the involvement and leadership of future members. Membership requires no financial contribution at this point, and people receive complementary membership by completing a short survey.  According to the CSA, this survey will help the association understand the diverse needs, interests and expertise of the citizen science community; gauge the energy, initiative and commitment to CSA activities; and inspire potential funders. Read the rest of this entry »

Commons Lab on Boston Public Radio

In Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, News and Events on February 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

With 4,464 votes, Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece, Houses at Auvers (1890), was the most popular painting selected for the crowdsourced exhibition. Credit: Open Source

With 4,464 votes, Vincent van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers (1890) was the most popular painting selected for the crowdsourced exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Photo credit: Open Source

Visitors to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts recently stepped into the role of curator by voting on their favorite Impressionist artwork for inclusion in an exhibit called “Boston Loves Impressionism.” Amanda Beland, a reporter for Boston Public Radio’s show “You Are Here,” covered the exhibition’s opening as part of a Feb. 9 segment dedicated to crowdsourcing and citizen science. For the show, Beland interviewed Anne Bowser, a research assistant at the Commons Lab, to better understand the motivations of volunteers who contribute to crowdsourcing projects.

Bowser explained that volunteer motivation is complex and changes over time. “At least initially, citizen science is usually connected to people’s existing hobbies,” she said. “So for example, somebody may start monitoring avian populations because they have a birdfeeder in their backyard and they like to look at birds. And then different motivations come into play as people continue, or look at different projects, or transform their participation from just gathering data, to doing some form of analysis or interpretation, or posing new questions with data sets, or becoming project leaders.”

Check out the full segment on Beland’s Soundcloud page.

Commons Lab is Hiring!

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, News and Events on January 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm


The Science & Technology Innovation Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center is looking for a new Program Assistant to support the Commons Lab. This position will serve as the principal administrative support and research assistant to the senior associate who leads the Commons Lab. PDF of Vacancy Announcement

All qualified candidates may apply. Please visit the Wilson Center jobs page to review the full vacancy announcement for duties, requirements, and application procedures. The position announcement closes JANUARY 24, 2014.

EPA Launches New Citizen Science Website

In Citizen Science, News and Events on January 14, 2014 at 11:00 am


Editor’s note: This is a re-post of an EPA news release initially published on January 9th, 2014.

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revamped its Citizen Science website to provide new resources and success stories to assist the public in conducting scientific research and collecting data to better understand their local environment and address issues of concern. The website can be found at www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience.

“Citizen Science is an increasingly important part of EPA’s commitment to using sound science and technology to protect people’s health and safeguard the environment,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The EPA encourages the public to use the new website as a tool in furthering their scientific investigations and developing solutions to pollution problems.”

The updated website now offers detailed information about air, water and soil monitoring, including recommended types of equipment and resources for conducting investigations. It also includes case studies and videotapes that showcase successful citizen science projects in New York and New Jersey, provides funding opportunities, quality assurance information and workshops and webinars. 

The EPA Region 2 Citizen Science Program, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations within New York State, welcomes the efforts of citizen scientists to better understand and protect the environment. By providing the tools to increase the quality of the data collected and assist in its interpretation, the EPA is helping the public achieve greater levels of environmental protection.

Visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience today to explore the new Citizen Science website and sign up for our mailing list to receive regular updates on Citizen Science from EPA Region 2.

EVENT: New Visions for Citizen Science

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, News and Events on November 18, 2013 at 9:00 am


Citizen science projects range from classifying galaxies and collecting environmental data to collectively solving the structure of an AIDS-related enzyme through a protein-folding game.The Commons Lab within the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center, in collaboration with TechChange and the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and Africa Program, invite you to join a conversation on open innovation and citizen science: What technologies support public participation in scientific research? How can projects ensure high-quality data collection and analysis, and support meaningful engagement with volunteers? How can federal agencies build partnerships to leverage these new approaches? What are the impacts to science, management, and policy, and how do we measure success?

Opening remarks by Kumar Garg, Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation, Technology and Innovation Division, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Wednesday, November 20 from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT
To attend in person, please register here.

This event will be live streamed during the keynote and panel discussion; registration is not required for online participation. Click here to view live stream.

Follow the event on Twitter @STIPCommonsLab and #CitSci

Read the rest of this entry »

NEW DATE: New Visions for Citizen Science

In Commons Lab, News and Events on October 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm


Please note NEW DATE:
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
from 1:00 – 5:00 PM EDT

Woodrow Wilson Center
Ronald Reagan Building
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

RSVP to participate in person: http://bit.ly/1cdBZyp
Watch the live webcast here: http://bit.ly/1cdBZyp

Organizations can bolster their internal resources with contributions from outside volunteers. These contributions bring new and unique perspectives to advance science and technology or generate solutions to complex challenges. However, it is sometimes unclear which problems open innovation and science can solve, or which technologies and processes can support projects in federal agencies.

The Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars seeks to help federal agencies understand how open innovation and science can support community and agency goals. In collaboration with the Africa Program and ESCP, we are hosting “New Visions for Citizen Science,” the first in a series of roundtable discussions on open innovation and science, on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT in the 6th floor dining room at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.
Read the rest of this entry »


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