Citizen Science

I’ve been interested in citizen science my whole life, as you might have guessed from some of my older database projects and my fascination with birding.  So, I’m really excited about the launch of Climatewatch, and a new project that we kicked off last week in Canberra, focusing on the role of citizen science and the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA).

Nigel George from Redskink and myself went to Canberra for a two-day workshop to start the ALA project last week.  This first stage focuses on reviewing the needs of several  large citizen science projects happening around Australia, and then looking at what sort of open source tool stack would help these projects to achieve their goals.  If we find some commonality in the citizen science projects out there, then we’ll be looking at building the tool stack over the next 18 months or so.  We’ll shortly have a web presence up for this project, and I’ll blog and tweet the details of this.

The initial steps in this work are already underway, with Nigel talking to some projects on the east coast, while I am looking at the West coast projects.  Our backgrounds are also complementary, with Nigel working more in the water and physio-chemical areas, while I’ve been focused on biology most of my career.  Both of us are quite excited about the project and the possibilities of working together on a range of other projects, so stay tuned…

In our other main citizen science project, Climatewatch kicked off on Monday morning, with the Acting Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, launching the web site in Melbourne.  The event went well, I’m told, and you can read more about it here.

Climatewatch is a pretty large citizen science project (and we will be including it in our ALA project), which aims to capture information about “indicator” species, and how their behaviours are changing in the face of climate change.  It’s the other end of climate change from the work we’ve been recently doing for the South Coast NRM Inc group, where (along with other consultants) we have been looking at mapping and analyzing regional climate change impacts and effects.

Two people at Gaia Resources have put lot of hard work into the Climatewatch project, firstly Tim Carpenter (who left Gaia Resources earlier this year) and then by Anthony Jones, who’s taken Tim’s role here.  Both of the guys put a lot of hard work into Climatewatch, and without it the launch wouldn’t be as successful.  So credit must go to Tim and AJ for their hard work here.

I would like to finish this post up by encouraging anyone interested in citizen science, or climate change, to register and participate in Climatewatch (you can register here).  You don’t have to be a naturalist, a biologist or have any special qualifications.  If you can recognize an Australian Magpie, or a Common Brown Butterfly, or a White Cedar tree, then you can participate – and if you can’t recognize them yet, the Climatewatch web site will certainly provide you with the material so that you can!

If you have any questions about these projects, then contact me via email or Twitter.

Comments are closed.