Published on March 11, 2014
CITIZEN SCIENCE Lea Shanley and Anne Bowser Commons Lab of the Science and Technology Innovation Program Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Presented at the Citizen Cyberscience Summit 20-22 February 2014 WHAT’S POLICY GOT TO DO WITH IT?
What is Citizen Science? § Working Definition: A form of collaboration where members of the public participate in scientific research to meet real world problems. § Also defined, albeit less commonly, as: - the engagement of nonscientists in true decision-making about policy issues that have technical or scientific components.
What is policy? § Working Definition: “A set of explicit or implicit principles, norms, rules, and decision making produres around which actor expectations converge.” (Jackson et al 2014) § This may include, for example: - Public policy: A system of laws, regulations, government actions, and funding priorities promulgated by a government to address social or economic issues. - Data policy: “A set of broad, high level principles that form the guiding framework in which data management can operate.” (OECD 2002)
Policy-Relevant Citizen Science
Value for evaluating conservation policy § “Annual State of the Birds” report uses modeled data based on checklists submitted to eBird § Demonstrates a link between private land conservation incentives and species distribution Policy-Relevant Citizen Science
Value for environmental health and justice Policy-Relevant Citizen Science § Volunteers test water & air quality, helping to detect and restore problem sites. § Clean Air Coalition of Western New York monitoring efforts led to 86% reduction in atmospheric benzene.
Value for coastal management Policy-Relevant Citizen Science § UW’s Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) monitors local marine resources and ecosystem health § Data collected to legal standard so it can be used as evidence in court
Value for broadband accessibility Policy-Relevant Citizen Science § US FCC crowdsourced connectivity to create the National Broadband Map § NBM used to hold companies accountable, assess digital divide, and direct resources to gaps
Policy Relevance vs Impact § Citizen science can inform policy, but policymakers may or may not use this information, and may or may not use it wisely. § Citizen science is but one ingredient in policy making => Policy. Politics. Procedure. § Connect bottom up and top down.
Policy Relevant to Citizen Science
Data Policies policies Other Policies Ethics Law How are data policies formed? Law and Regulations § Policies demonstrate legal compliance Ethics § Formal (IRB) and informal Other Policies § Standards § Best practices
Who sets data policy? Intermediaries Federal agenciesProjects It depends… Projects receiving federal support set their own policies Projects run through intermediaries use intermediary policies Projects run through agencies use agency policies
What are the implications? Intermediaries Federal agenciesProjects It depends… • Level of complexity determined by resources • Some shortcuts: Creative Commons • Need a checklist of key concerns • Serious investments in response to strong legal concerns • Some project- specific policies • Need deep analysis of federal constraints • Some legal concerns • TOU more flexible than privacy policies • Need deeper information
§ Liability / risk mitigation § Privacy Act § Cybersecurity § Paperwork Reduction Act § Data Quality Act § Anti-Deficiency Act § Procurement regulations § Data ownership and licensing § Freedom of Information/Data access § Records management and retention US Legal and Policy Hurdles
“Public participation in scientific research, one type of crowdsourcing known as ‘citizen science,’ allows the public to make critical contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math by collecting, analyzing, and sharing a wide range of data.” Open Government National Action Plan US commitment to citizen science
Open Government National Action Plan US commitment to citizen science § Create an Open Innovation Toolkit § New Incentive Prizes and Challenges on Challenge.gov § Increased Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Agency Programs
Follow Us CommonsLab.wilsoncenter.org /CommonsLab @STIPCommonsLab bit.ly/CommonsLabVideos bit.ly/CommonsLabReports Lea.Shanley@wilsoncenter.org Anne.Bowser@wilsoncenter.og
Term Definition Crowdmapping Also called Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), a process where public volunteers create, assemble, and distribute geographic knowledge Crowdsourcing A process where individuals or roganizations solicit contributions from a large group of individuals (“the crowd”) or, in some cases, a bounded group of trusted individuals or experts Do-it-yourself (DIY) A method of creating, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of professional experts Hackathon A model of mass collaboration where volunteer software developers create new technologies such as mobile applications, often for a prize or other reward Mass Collaboration A process where individual efforts are combined to create a single solution to a shared problem or goal Open Data The idea that data and other types of knowledge should be shared by governments, organizations, and the public “in a way that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable” Open Innovation A paradigm which suggests that organizations can and should solicit contributions from external volunteers Open Science A solicitation to share the process or results of scientific inquiry with a broad community Source: Bowser & Shanley, 2013
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