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Articles, Citizen Cyberscience Summit, Science by Citizens

Citizen Science in the EU project EveryAware – Vittorio Loreto

Friday 18th February

Speaker: Vittorio Loreto

Theme: Science by citizens

Website: http://www.everyaware.eu

EveryAware is an EU project, with five partners across Europe, intending to integrate environmental monitoring, awareness enhancement and behavioural change by creating a new technological platform combining sensing technologies, networking applications and data-processing tools.

Higher level aims of the project:

  • Involving citizens in the process of monitoring the environment, but combing objective and subjective measures
  • Enhance citizens’ awareness
  • Ultimately change individuals’ behaviour
  • Putting pressure on policy makers

One of the main principles of their activities is turning users into sensors – EveryAware is distinctive by combining the objective and subjective measures.

EveryAware platform:

  • Objective data comes from a sensor box (GPS, accelerometer, temperature, noise, air quality)
  • Subjective data: votes, comments, perceptions etc

Do the objective measures change our subjective perception of the environment?

This can help to understand how opinions emerge, shift or change in a population (opinion, cultural, language, crowd, human and social spreading phenomena dynamics)

This can be facilitated through new ICT-driven opportunities:

  • Understand and control information dynamics
  • Web as a laboratory for social science
  • Raise awareness and participation

Such opportunities can be exploited over different scales of engagement:

  • Users with sensor box (air quality) c. 200-300 people
  • Users with smartphones (noise pollution) c. 100-10000 people
  • Web users, web games and opinions

Case study from the project on noise pollution: WideNoise

  • Users offered the chance to guess what the noise level is and report their perceptions about the level of noise (after they are presented with the objective measure)
  • The idea is to identify whether people change their behaviour (e.g. walking routes) based on this information

The next step is to tap into the web audience through “Social computation”. Definition: Populations of users facing collectively difficult problems using a small cognitive overhead.

Current examples from outside of EveryAware:

These are however based on existing platforms, which have usually been developed for different purposes and are therefore not always ideal. EveryAware is working on a new platform for web-based experiments: http://www.xtribe.eu/ . This will allow virtually any researcher to realize his own experiments with minimal effort, paving the way or the use of the web as a standard laboratory for social sciences. One game the project has already built on this platform is a game that identifies how quickly users identify cultural landmarks from aerial imagery at different scales: http://www.xtribe.eu/experiment/33/guess-where. For other examples go to http://www.xtribe.eu/latest-experiments.

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