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An innovative research EU excellence project REINFORCE – Bridging the gap between Large Research Infrastructures and Society through Citizen Science

REINFORCE (Research Infrastructures FOR citizens in Europe) Research & Innovation Project, supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 SWAFS programme, was officially launched with its kick-off meeting held on 8th-9th December 2019 at the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), coordinating partner of the project, which is headquartered in the stunning Tuscan hills in Cascina, Pisa (Italy).

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Funded under the H2020-SwafS-2018-2020 call entitled “Exploring and supporting citizen science” within the “Science with and for Society” work programme, REINFORCE in its 36 months duration starts in parallel to the establishment of new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and her administration that mirrors also the goals of the project where she suggests for “a new push for European democracy”, including a two-year ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’, in which citizens shall “play a leading and active part”. Von der Leyen’s proposal endorses her predecessor’s 2017 resolve to “debate, not dictate” (1). The project will allow citizens’ voices to be heard by strengthening the communication and feedback channels between research and society. Citizens will cooperate with researchers and actively contribute in the development of new knowledge for the needs of science and society, matching the new EC spirit of a meaningful process of EU democratic renewal to build a solid European Civic Space. Stavros Katsanevas, Director at EGO the coordinating partner, states that the key concept of the project is to bridge the gap between Science & Society. Citizen science interventions are becoming more and more relevant across all scientific disciplines and the humanities and it can potentially bring a wide variety of benefits to researchers, citizens, policy makers and society across the research and innovation cycle. Furthermore, questions remain unanswered about the potential of citizen science for society. REINFORCE will aim to answer these questions by engaging more than 100,000 citizens in the research done in Large Research Infrastructures through a participatory design methodology. Yiannis Vacondios, Project Officer of REINFORCE and Project Advisor at REA (Research Executive Agency) of the European Commission, attended the KO meeting praising the ambitious goals of “creating and sustaining an active and informed community of citizens who actively participate in scientific endeavors” and favorably sees the REINFORCE roadmap playing a relevant role in contributing to Policy considerations for the European Commission. The project will create a series of cutting-edge citizen science projects on frontier Physics research, with citizen scientists making a genuine and valued contribution to managing the data avalanche. They will use real and simulated data for analysis, simple affordable detectors and instrumentation to measure properties of objects such as cosmic rays, providing among others their contributions in large infrastructure site specific parameters such as environmental impacts and noise. Furthermore, through the use of open data as with dedicated training activities on their use and analysis, citizens will be able to perform their own inquiries, guided and supported by the REINFORCE experts. The frontier Physics research domains that will be developed by demonstrators to engage citizens are the following:  Gravitational Wave Astronomy, in which citizens will participate in the analysis of noisy signals which hinder the researchers from observing “ripples in spacetime” coming from black hole or neutron star mergers.  Neutrino Astronomy, in which citizens will contribute in the mapping of biological and environmental effects which are yet to be understood in order to be able to optimize the detection of neutrinos from the cosmos.  High Energy Physics, in which citizens will have the opportunity to actively contribute in the search for new particles at the LHC using Open Data and going beyond visual classification.  The interplay of Cosmic Rays with Geoscience and Archaeology, in order for citizens to help explore the connections across the fields of cosmic ray physics, geology, volcanology and archaeology through the use of data and simple experimental devices. Further info: 1

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