So what is citizen science? "Broadly defined, citizen science is a form of research collaboration that involves volunteers in producing authentic scientific research. Drastically simplified, citizen science is research accomplished by engaging humans as “sensors” to collect scientific data or as “processors” to manipulate scientific data or to solve data analysis problems. Involving people beyond professional scientists in a project enables unique new research, cumulating the contributions of many individuals (Bonney, et al., 2014) and taking advantage of human competencies that can be substantially more sophisticated than machines.
To produce sound science, citizen science projects incorporate means of assuring the quality of the research activities according to accepted scientific norms (Wiggins, et al., 2011), which distinguishes them from many other forms of collective content production.
A variety of labels have been used to describe citizen science and related forms of public participation in scientific research. Among these, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research, civic science, action science, and community science have been used most often. Each label is specific to a particular set of research disciplines and emphasizes different features of public engagement in science." Surveying the Citizen Science Landscape (2015). The movement towards engaging communities in science has grown so much that in 2012 the Citizen Science Association was formed and held its first international conference in 2013. Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, one of the first organizations to host a citizen science network, continues to be a key supporter in the North American citizen science movement, providing a range of great resources through its Citizen Science Central portal.
SCCP Endangered Species Finder APP: Species Identification on the go! To complement our species and habitat profiles portal the SCCP launched our "South Coast Endangered Species Finder" app. This app synchs with our online species profiles so that both platforms can be updated easily as new information becomes available. At present about 20 species have complete profile data. Another 90 species are set to be completed and new species will be added (and some removed) as conservation listings change.
You can use the app to view images and general information about all the species profiled on our website. Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of species you encounter and make field notes using your phone’s GPS system. Create a diary of occurrences and favourites to use for future reference! This information will also be incredibly valuable for reporting your information through the BC Conservation Data Centre and programs like BC Frog Watch and the Community Bat Programs of BC.
The SCCP is hoping to eventually incorporate a “report a species” function into the app so that users can submit images, coordinates and records of species for confirmation. Ultimately the SCCP hopes the system will be integrated with its “Species at Risk Networking” (SARnet) platform as well as provide a conduit for submitting occurrence information to the BC Conservation Data Centre. thereare also a suite of other online apps including iBird, Merlin (from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology), iNaturalist, Project Noah and the Conservation app from our partners at the BC Wildlife Federation for reporting violations.
BioBlitz events have become popular throughout Canada and the US, supported by organizations like Robert Bateman’s “Get to Know Program”, BioBlitz Canada, the Whistler Naturalists (Canada's longest running BioBlitz!) and a number of universities, local governments and conservation partnerships. On BC’s South Coast, BioBlitzes have become annual events. Since 2008 the SCCP has delivered five such events, including our most recent one in partnership with the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society (Mossom Creek watershed) which utilied iNaturalist for the first time! Looking to host your own BioBlitz? The SCCP has created a handy presentation, "So You Want to Do a BioBlitz" available for download below.
Finally, read through our survey findings and report from the citizen engagement workshops the SCCP hosted as part of our work to create a more effective, well informed, well-networked conservation community, better able to affect protection and stewardship of a range of species and their habitats, while reducing conflicts over land use due to knowledge gaps. It was these workshops that help to guide the SCCP and its partners in developing the citizen science tools and approaches above.