Do you know citizen science?
Citizen science refers to the participation of the general public in scientific research activities, when citizens actively use science, either with their intellectual effort, their local knowledge or with their tools and resources.
Although citizen science as such has been around for centuries, the term "citizen science" was first coined by Alan Irwin in his 1995 book Citizen Science: A Study of People, Expertise, and Sustainable Development. The goal of citizen science, according to Irwin, is to bring science closer to the people, considering the possibilities of a more active "scientific citizenship" and involving participants in dialogue and decision-making around issues related to science. risk and environmental threat to their communities.
Therefore, in addition to the purpose of making knowledge a reality, citizen science emerged to democratize science:
- This type of project usually focuses on aspects of science aimed at meeting the needs and concerns of society,
- It implies a form of science directed by the citizens themselves outside of formal institutions.
- Anyone, without a specific professional qualification, can contribute to the generation of scientific knowledge.
Since the beginning of the year 2000, the possibilities of diffusion, communication and exchange of resources through the Internet began to expand in a revolutionary way. Innovative and increasingly affordable technologies are allowing new players to become more involved in monitoring and evaluating natural resources, such as hydrological systems or air quality.
The lack of information is a problem to be able to make accurate decisions, and in the field of hydrology this is a daily reality. Hydrological data for many parts of the world are incomplete and, in others, the length of time series is insufficient. This implies that areas with limited monitoring networks, particularly low-income countries, may take longer to achieve sustainable and effective water management.
How could citizen science benefit groundwater management?
This is the question that the PRIMA eGROUNDWATER project, of which ICATALIST is a part, will answer over the next four years. The overall objective of eGROUNDWATER is to support sustainable participatory groundwater management in Mediterranean regions through the design, testing and evaluation of improved information systems (EIS). With processes based on citizen science, users will collect groundwater data combining ICT methods such as sensors and telemetry devices. After its analysis, this data will be available in an app to favor a more transparent and effective management of resources.
As a first step, ICATALIST is developing a set of cards containing information, examples and guidelines on how to apply citizen science to groundwater monitoring and management through improved information systems. It is a flexible design and learning tool.