Luigi Ceccaroni, founder and research lead at 1000001 Labs, is the principal investigator and coordinator of the Citclops project, an FP7 5 M€ European project about a citizens’ observatory for coast and ocean monitoring [http://www.citclops.eu/].
Measuring the optical properties of water bodies (as indicators of, e.g., sewage impact, dissolved organic matter, sediment load or gross biological activity) is a way to assess their environmental status. The Citclops project, in 2012-2015, developed systems to retrieve and use data on natural-water colour, transparency and fluorescence, using low-cost sensors combined with contextual information, taking into account existing experiences (e.g., Coastwatch Europe, ECSA’s Projects, data, tools & technology working group and CSA’s Data and metadata working group).
People are now able to acquire water-quality data taking photographs of the water surface on ferries or other vessels, at the open sea or from the shore. Additionally, digital cameras for aquatic activities with extended sensing systems have been deployed as alternative resources for collecting data in a participatory way. All these data are automatically uploaded through a specific service (similar to Dropbox, or Google Photos Back up & sync), processed and archived remotely, and resulting information is accessed through a webpage or a mobile application by end users.
These end users include: decision makers (e.g. local administrations and harbour masters), who can use the information to improve the management of the coastal zone and specific activities such as dredging; the aquaculture and shellfish industry, which is highly dependent on early algal bloom detection; citizens, who can source and provide water colour and transparency information, which can play a key role in enjoyment of recreational activities; educators for new geography and biology teaching; and researchers. Citclops developed a novel approach that embraces the expanding behaviour of citizens as information prosumers in social applications. By enabling citizens to carry out participatory monitoring based on low-cost devices, Citclops achieved two main goals:
- to expand the range of monitoring possibilities; and
- to raise the citizen engagement with environmental issues.
Engagement of stakeholders (science and technology researchers, decision makers, and society) in a citizens’ observatory such as Citclops can be described as a process from initial stages of maturity (e.g., widespread water colour and transparency misconceptions) to more developed understanding. In the early stages, Citclops’ researchers consulted stakeholder communities as they planned, designed and started to implement the citizens’ observatory. As Citclops development process evolved, stakeholders took a more active role, participating in the citizens’ observatory’s structure and management, and sometimes negotiating with Citclops’s partners to ensure their specific goals and values were represented. Now at full maturity, Citclops shared management between project partners and stakeholders, and in some cases transferred management completely to local communities, with the citizens’ observatory’s managers only providing advice and consultation. It is critical to note that the participatory engagement of stakeholders was perhaps the most important component of the planning and development of Citclops.
Meaningful engagement depended on the ability of researchers to build a healthy, lasting and trustful relationship with stakeholders, including local communities. The approaches developed by Citclops were intended to define and develop this process of stakeholder engagement in the domain of natural-waters’ monitoring; and Citclops’s development can be summarised in a series of five steps: (1) understanding and engaging stakeholders; (2) getting started with stakeholders; (3) developing a participatory-science approach; (4) stakeholders acting as advisors; (5) developing co-management approaches. At each step towards increased stakeholder-engagement maturity, different techniques and tools are required. It is also important to note that it was assumed that engagement between stakeholders and Citclops was a progressive process that aspired to move stakeholders and communities that were initially less engaged to a situation in which they were highly engaged.
Finally, it is also important to note that a fundamental part of the empowerment of stakeholders is represented by finding suitable channels of information delivery. Key information channels were the Citclops Data Explorer [http://citclops-data-explorer.herokuapp.com/] and EyeOnWater [http://www.eyeonwater.org/] web portals. These were developed using innovative software architecture, data models (how to model observations and how to exchange data), standards (SeaDataNet, OGC, SensorML, development of more lightweight standards), data representation and visualisation, data sharing (how to provide data to GEOSS), semantic aspects and linked data.
Download Citclops public deliverables below:
Download Citclops apps below:
“EyeOnWater-colour” app (Android)
“EyeOnWater-colour” app (iOS)
“Citclops – Citizen water colour monitoring” app (Android) (obsolete)