Citizen Science - What's policy got to do with it?

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Information about Citizen Science - What's policy got to do with it?

Published on March 11, 2014

Author: lshanley



Policy is an important but often overlooked component of citizen science projects. There are operational data policy considerations, such as user agreements, terms of use, and privacy. There are laws and regulations that may either encourage or inhibit government use of citizen science data. In the United States, these include the U.S. Paperwork Reduction Action, U.S. Data Quality Act, and U.S. Anti-Deficiency Act. And, there is the potential impact of citizen science on public policy objectives. This presentation will touch on each of these three areas. Presented by Lea Shanley and Anne Bowser, Commons Lab, Wilson Center.

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 User Agreement §  Clickwrap (explicit) §  Browserwrap (implicit) Privacy Policy §  Voluntary data (i.e., PII) §  Involuntary data (i.e., cookies) §  Security Legal Policies §  Legal compliance §  Other compliance (i.e., IRB) §  Liability disclaimer Terms of Use §  Data ownership/IP §  Data use Source: Bowser et al., 2013. DataOne Policy Primer What is included in data policies?

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 §  Increased Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Agency Programs

Follow Us /CommonsLab @STIPCommonsLab 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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