Wilson Center’s Science & Technology Innovation Program

Posts Tagged ‘Crowdsourcing’

White House Recognizes Citizen Science, CSA Commitments, at Science Fair

In Citizen Science, News and Events on March 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

This post is re-blogged from the Citizen Science Association. The original post can be found here

Washington, D.C. ­­(March 23rd, 2015)– Citizen science received some high level attention today when plans were unveiled to install a new rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden.

This rain gauge represents far more than just a Pennsylvania Avenue data point for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS), a citizen science network of over 20,000 active participants who serve as the largest source of daily precipitation data in the United States. Announced in conjunction with the White House Science Fair, this commitment points to high-level recognition of citizen science as a powerful platform for science education.

CoCoRaHS founder, Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, was on hand for the White House Science Fair. Doesken, also a member of the Citizen Science Association Board of Directors, says: “This fair clearly shows how the youth of our national are exploring the frontiers of science.  But people of all ages and backgrounds are also helping advance scientific research, education and discovery.  Today, opportunities abound for any of us to be “citizen scientists” — contributing through our own back yard and neighborhood observations or helping scientists analyze and interpret complex systems.  There are so many opportunities and they help make science very real and relevant.”

The Citizen Science Association (CSA) is leading the charge to support excellence in education through citizen science. As outlined in a document released today by the White House, CSA is creating resources to help citizen science projects excel at supporting education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Citizen science represents a transformative opportunity for both formal and informal science education,” says Sarah Kirn, from Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Co-Chair of CSA’s Education Working Group. “Through citizen science, educators have the opportunity to design experiences that immerse learners in the practices, concepts, and knowledge of science, but these experiences must be carefully constructed to achieve both scientific and learning outcomes.”

To this end, the CSA will work over the coming year to highlight projects representing exemplary practices in education through real-world research. CSA will also work withSciStarter to align 500 projects with standards for educational practices in science and engineering.

Some exemplary work is already receiving attention by the White House. In addition to CoCoRaHS, citizen science efforts highlighted in White House Science Fair exhibitions andannouncements include:

  • Work by 17-year old Tiye Garrett-Mills, a Teen Science Scholar at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to develop low-cost instrumentation for leaf vein scanning and identification
  • Commitments by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to distribute Quest materials to help 4th graders and their families use eBird to connect to nature as part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park
  • An announcement of a new Citizen Science Tool lending library organized by SciStarter and Public Lab
  • The National Ecological Observatory Network’s “Project BudBurst” will offer a new online course to support citizen science at wildlife refuges
  • Esri will release a free open crowdsourcing app designed to help teachers, students, and youth groups easily create their own projects, report observations, and explore them on a dynamic map

Everyone is also encouraged to add their own young scientists’ citizen science projects to the White House Science Fair map:https://crowdsource.storymaps.esri.com/stories/science-fair

President Obama, commenting on the White House Science Fair, said: “There’s a reason so many young people love science.  It’s fun, it’s fascinating, and it helps us solve the mysteries of our world.   I want more boys and girls across America to get the chance to study science, technology, engineering and math – and maybe have the opportunity to go on to careers in those fields, too.  So I’m glad so many organizations are stepping up to support STEM education.  When we invest in our young people, we invest in our future.”

Want to get involved?

  • To find a project to participate in, check out a list of over 1000 projects on SciStarter.
  • To help advance education through citizen science, consider joining (for free) theCitizen Science Association.


Today’s event will be livestreamed, beginning at approximately 10am:www.whitehouse.gov/live

Follow on Twitter: #WHScienceFair

Tracking a Changing Climate Workshop Summary

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Governance, Guest Blogger, News and Events on December 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm

How can Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing play a role in tracking our changing climate?  The Commons Lab collaborated with US Global Climate Research Program and the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science to find out how a system like this could work.  The vision for the sustained National Climate Assessment involves identifying a set of indicators – or physical, ecological, and societal variables – that track climate changes, impacts and responses.  We held a public roundtable (November 18th) and an invitation-only workshop (November 19th) to explore the following questions:

  • Which indicators could benefit from the incorporation of citizen science—10 years from now, five years from now, and today?
  • What existing citizen science projects can be leveraged? Are there opportunities for new uses of citizen science?
  • How can citizen science and indicators be used together to help a range of audiences better understand climate change?

A graphic recording of the roundtable discussions. (Credit: Emily Cloyd)

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How Do You Communicate Your Science?

In Citizen Science, Crowdsourcing on December 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3 49 47 PMDoes the media you use  change depending on the audience?  Would you like to  know how to reach your target audiences (e.g.,  resource managers, the public, policy makers) more  effectively?

The Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia is seeking participants for an academic study.  They have created an online survey that asks how participants learn about current scientific studies, which resources they prefer and trust (like journals or newspapers vs. radio programs), and from which resources they would like to see more information.  The goal is to take the results and publish a paper that informs scientists about which methods are best for reaching specific target audiences, as well as identifies gaps in communication between scientists and these targets.

If you would like to participate in the survey, it only takes about 10 minutes to complete online, and does not require any identifying information so your answers are completely anonymous.

The link to the survey is: http://UBCSciComm.questionpro.com/.  (They are especially interested in getting input from policy makers, governmental and NGO scientists, and natural resource managers, so please pass this on to anyone in those groups.)  If you do fill out the survey, it works better on a computer than a smartphone, due to the survey software. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email them at: science.survey.ubc@gmail.com

Citizens and Scientists: An Engaging Relationship

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Reports and Publications on November 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

While it is clear that citizen science has revolutionized the methodology behind collecting and analyzing data, how have these processes impacted the traditional nature of scientists whose conduct of research is often socially detached and highly sophisticated? As the relationship between citizens and scientists continues to evolve, their collaborative role in the production of knowledge has become the topic of new research by Jennifer Shirk and Scott Peters at Cornell University.

Peters and Shirk are exploring the complex social relationship between the interests of scientists and their engagement with the public during the conduct of citizen science. By examining the work done by nine PhD scientists, who have significant involvement in citizen science projects, they found that this relationship goes well beyond aggregation and interpretation of data. In fact, the relationship of scientists and their citizen counterparts has developed into one that combines diverse perspectives to facilitate an integrated dialogue for learning and action. The results of the study will be presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2015 Annual Meeting in February.

Dr. Shirk will be panelist at the Tracking a Changing Climate: Citizen Science Contributions to the National Climate Assessment event at the Wilson Center on November 18th. As Program Manager for CitizenScience.org at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Dr. Shirk supports a community of practitioners who lead, manage, implement and research citizen science projects. Read the rest of this entry »

NASA Launches New Citizen Science Website

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Governance on October 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm



NASASolve debuted last month as a “one-stop-shop” for prizes and challenges that are seeking contributions from people like you. But don’t worry, you need not be a rocket scientist to apply. The general public is encouraged to contribute to solving a variety of challenges facing NASA in reaching its mission goals, from hunting asteroids to re-designing Balance Mass for the Mars Lander, there are multitudes of ways for you to be a part of the nation’s space program.

Crowdsourcing the public for innovative solutions is something that NASA has been engaged in since 2005. But as NASA’s chief technologist David Miller points out on the agency’s website, “NASASolve is a great way for members of the public and other citizen scientists to see all NASA prizes and challenges in one location.” The new site hopes to build on past successes like the Astronaut Glove Challenge, the ISS Longeron Challenge and the Zero Robotics Video Challenge. “Challenges are one tool to tap the top talent and best ideas. Partnering with the community to get ideas and solutions is important for NASA moving forward,” says Jennifer Gustetic, Program Executive of NASA Prizes and Challenges.

In order to encourage more active public participation, millions of dollars and scholarships have been set aside to reward those whose ideas and solutions succeed in taking on NASA’s challenges. If you want to get involved, visit NASASolve for more information and the current list of challenges waiting for solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Computation Summit 2014: Microtasking Drives Innovation

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2014 at 11:19 am

sethportraitThis is a guest blog post written by Seth Teicher summarizing the Human Computation Roadmap hosted by the Commons Lab here at the Wilson Center in June 2014.  Seth is Head of Content and Business Development at CrowdFlower. He has worked in crowdsourcing his entire career — with Al Gore on a first-of-its-kind crowdsourcing initiative that leveraged tens of thousands of video testimonials to advocate for climate legislation, then as a founding team member at Atlas Obscura, a crowdsourced guide to hidden wonders of the world before joining CrowdFlower team in his current role.

“Human computation amplifies scientific discovery and human innovation.”

– Haym Hirsh, Cornell University

I had the honor of representing CrowdFlower at the Human Computation Roadmap Summit in Washington D.C. Led by Pietro Michelucci, author of the Handbook of Human Computation and founding editor of the journal Human Computation, and his co-chairs Lea Shanley of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Haym Hirsh, Dean of Computing and Information Sciences at Cornell University, and Janis Dickinson, Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, nearly 60 people from across academia, citizen science and the Federal government assembled to help sculpt a Human Computation Research Roadmap that aligns with our national priorities.

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EVENT: National Plan for Civil Earth Observations

In Crowdsourcing, Governance on August 27, 2014 at 10:16 am


Thursday, September 4th, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, 6th Floor Boardroom

In July 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) released the National Plan for Civil Earth Observations. Developed from the results of the first-ever assessment of the Federal civil earth observation enterprise, the Plan provides strategic guidance for a balanced portfolio approach to managing civil earth observations to fulfill agency mandates, achieve national objectives, and help inform Federal investments in civil earth observations. This briefing will highlight the key components of the National Plan, outline its impacts across Federal agencies involved in earth observations, and review associated efforts to enable interagency coordination.

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Map For Ebola with American Red Cross

In Citizen Science, Crowdsourcing, Disaster Management on August 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm


The American Red Cross presents another opportunity to help First Responders on the ground through Open Street Map!

Will you be our crowd? We are mapping in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Multiple aid organizations, including the Red Cross, have deployed medical teams to identified sites in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and additional detailed base map data is needed to assist in the response. We will focus on mapping the Joru area, covering parts of southeastern Sierra Leone and western Liberia. No prior experience is necessary, but we recommend that you sign up for an account ahead of time at www.openstreetmap.org, if you do not already have one. You can learn more about the task beforehand here.

Not familiar with OpenStreetMap or the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team? Check out the mapping tutorials and watch the video “Why Map?” to learn more about crowdsourced mapping.

When: Friday, August 22nd, 2014    2pm – 6pm

Where: American Red Cross’s Board of Governors Room at 430 17th St. NW, Washington, DC

What: Bring your laptops if you are planning to map, and a mouse if you have one (we will bring extras if you don’t have a mouse). Food will be provided. If you can’t make it in person, you can map the task with us on any computer with internet access.

RSVP: For further information and to RSVP visit our Meetup page here.

Potential Benefits and Challenges of Crowdfunding in Mexico

In Crowdsourcing, Governance on June 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This is a guest post by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Borrowing from formal banking institutions in Mexico requires high securities and involves high interest rates. As a result, it’s difficult for entrepreneurs, and small and medium enterprises to establish and grow businesses via the traditional financial system. There is a need to fill this gap with affordable capital to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and ultimately, economic growth.

In this regard, crowdfunding can help to close the financing gap that has prevented innovation and entrepreneurism. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people. Supported in recent years by increasing internet access, crowdfunding has been gaining momentum. Even when it has been out there for hundreds of years (e.g. church’s alms or tandas) new technologies now allow larger numbers of potential donors or investors.


Saint Barbara Almoloya Church, San Pedro Cholula, Puebla state, Mexico. Source: Wikimedia.

This year the Multilateral Investment Fund, member of the Inter-American Development Bank, published a report titled Crowdfunding in Mexico: The Power of Digital Technologies to Transform Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Economic Inclusion which analyzes the opportunities and challenges that Mexico faces to foster this practice. The document highlights signs of optimism for the success of crowdfounding like the country’s entrepreneurial culture, the independent creation of the Mexican Crowdfunding Association, economic reforms pushed through the current administration, and proximity to the U.S. capital markets.

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SciCast, Crowdsourcing Science and Technology Forecasting For Policy

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Foresight, Governance, Guest Blogger on May 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

SciCast is a crowdsourced forecasting platform for science and technology run by George Mason University. It is based on the idea that the collective wisdom of an informed and diverse group is often a better predictor than the judgment of a single expert.


Part of the Forecasting Science and Technology (ForeST) Program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), SciCast questions are generated by its participants, as well as ForeST teams at Inkling Markets, George Mason University, BAE Systems and SRI International. KaDSci LLC helps scientists and policymakers formulate questions for SciCast, and Gold Brand Software, LLC is the systems integrator.

SciCast is the largest S&T forecasting effort we know of, crowdsourcing in real-time from a pool of thousands of scientists and enthusiasts.  Popular topics include Bitcoin, the search for MH370, chess, alternative energy, space sciences and honeybee colony collapse.  We also have a richly connected set of questions on Top500 computer speeds, and another set on open problems in theoretical computer science.

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