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Participatory science toolkit against pollution

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution)

Période du rapport: 2019-02-01 au 2020-04-30

ACTION will transform the way we do citizen science (CS) today: from a mostly scientist-led process to a more participatory, inclusive, citizen-led one, which acknowledges the diversity of the CS landscape and of the challenges CS teams have to meet as their project evolves. We have partnered with 5 European CS initiatives tackling major forms of pollution, which pose substantial threats to human health and to the environment, and contributing to Sustainable Development Goals. These pilots will be the starting point for a ‘citizen science accelerator’, which will be expanded through an open call.
By considering the needs of multiple stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of CS, we will create methodologies, tools and guidelines to truly democratise the scientific process, allowing anyone to design and realise a CS project from the early stages of ideation to validating and publishing the results. Our research will account for the multitude of manifestations of CS, addressing everything from from small-scale, localised social issues to international research agendas. All ACTION’s outputs - infrastructure, the citizen science platform and toolkit - will be made openly available for online and offline use. They will use accessible formats and interfaces, which appeal to audiences with diverse motivations and backgrounds and provide detailed examples, workflows, and advice tailored for a range of activities, going beyond data collection and analysis. Our digital infrastructure will help citizen scientists use existing specialised platforms and publish results according to RRI principles, including open science. Our toolkit will tackle common difficulties around methodological choices, quality, incentives, community building and sustainability. In addition, the 35 pilots hosted by the accelerator will result in case studies that will demonstrate the impacts of CS at social, economic, environmental and policy level.

Pollution is one of the greatest health and environmental threats of our age. Recent figures show that across the 28 Member States of the EU, air pollution was responsible for more than half a million deaths in 2014 alone. Pollution also has an economic cost. In 2005 pollution abatement capital expenditures and operating costs in the US amounted to nearly $27 million. With a similar population size and GDP, the numbers in the EU will not be much different. In terms of noise pollution, an estimated 20% of the European population, 100 million people, are regularly exposed to excessive noise levels. At least 31 million of them suffer physical or psychological harm, leading to 72 thousands hospital treatments and more than 16 thousands deaths each year. Light pollution threatens biodiversity, as well as human health and wellbeing. Pesticides pollution impacts the environment by destroying biodiversity and degrading air quality. It can result in declines in birds, wild bees, and aquatic organism populations and pose serious risks to human health. Understanding and raising awareness of the dangerous effects of pollution is a relevant, timely concern. By focusing on citizen science projects, we can approach the co-design and co-development of our methodologies, tools and guidelines in a more systematic, coherent and insightful way.
We have completed the first of two open calls, and recruited and additional six pilots. The ACTION accelerator was launched, and (due to limitations of coronavirus) 9 of our 11 pilots are now working to better understand pollution in their respective areas. Preparations for the second open call, due to launch in September 2020, are currently underway. Work on the ACTION toolkit and tools is well underway. We have investigated the data practices of citizen science projects, citizen science tasks and characteristics, and mapped out the participatory science lifecycle (see attached image). We have carried out literature reviews, surveys and interviews, to better understand engagement, motivation and incentives in citizen science. developed an open data portal and data management plan tool, as well as CONEY for conversational surveys. Templates for common citizen science projects are in development, and further research into motivations and incentives for citizen scientists has begun. We have developed an impact assessment framework and canvas, which we are now implementing with the first cohort of pilots; data collection within the pilots as well as interviews with them to contextualise the survey data is currently underway. In addition to the research and development, ACTION has also published nine academic papers on results, attended a number of conferences and workshops, and engaged peers and the general public in a number of online and offline events.
ACTION expects to achieve the following:
1. A variety of citizen science initiatives are set up, funded and supported through the accelerator programme, dealing with a varied selection of pollutants and engaging diverse volunteer profiles across a wide area.
Our accelerator includes 11 pilots, investigating light, pesticide, air, water, noise, and plastic pollution. We will recruit four additional pilots with the second call, starting in September 2020.
2. There is an expanding array of digital infrastructures, toolkits, guidance and resources to support pollutionfocussed citizen science initiatives throughout their lifecycle and at all stages in the scientific process, creating new knowledge; encouraging and enabling co-creation; and expanding citizen participation meaningfully into activities which previously involved only professional roles.
We have developed an open data portal, data management plan tool, and tool for conversational surveys, as well as a number of insights, which will be summarised in the ACTION toolkit, due to launch at the end of 2020.
3. Support is made available to ensure the mid- and long-term sustainability and optimal impact of the pilots, both on participants’ knowledge and awareness of science and scientific issues surrounding pollution, and on policies and the impact of pollution and pollutants on society and individuals.
We have developed an impact assessment framework and canvas which is currently being tested with the accelerator pilots.
4. The ACTION digital infrastructure services, toolkit and guidance documents and methods have undergone several iterations involving feedback and ideas from a wide-ranging selection of stakeholders and are used by citizen science teams from outside the project, also in areas that are not pollution-related.
We are working on the first iteration of the toolkit, and testing tools developed to date with our pilots.
5. ACTION is recognised as a driver of responsible science and innovation in participatory science and is an active contributor to European and international fora in this space.
We are in constant exchange with the EU-Citizen.Science project and other SwafS projects working on CS, participating in events, and monthly conference calls used to present progress and updates on all projects. We are actively contributing by presenting ACTION processes and outcomes.
6. We help citizen science become a more open, inclusive, citizen-led and sustainable endeavour.
Our pilots receive tutoring and support to ensure they are working in an open and inclusive manner; further support for this goal will be part of our toolkit.
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Participatory Science Lifecycle
ACTION Consortium