Citizen science mapping pilots in Scotland!

What is Citizen Science Mapping? 

Citizen Science Mapping is a framework developed by GeoGeo to help citizens record their local knowledge on specific issues as geographic information. This cutting edge approach is empowering communities to come together to discuss what is most important to them and learn the latest in open source mapping software. Our framework can help to:

  • engage communities on locally-important issues;
  • motivate and train community members to use the latest open source mapping tools to record information on these issues;
  • support cartographic output and visualisation that aids discussion and decision making;
  • develop the right platforms and solutions that make use of the data and link with large, national datasets.

How Does It Work?

Citizen Science Mapping starts with listening to communities to understand their priority concerns and issues over a specific topic of interest.  This period of initial engagement helps to identify associated features and catalogue how these features are to be mapped.  This preliminary stage helps to enthuse citizens and open up discussion on the use of data and open source mapping tools.

Data collection through Citizen Science Mapping comes in two distinct methods.  Mapping sessions make use of satellite and aerial images, as well as paper maps, to allow citizens to trace and record important features (such as local assets, infrastructure and land use) as geographic data.  Here, platforms such as OpenStreetMap are leading the way allowing volunteers to increase the availability of free geographic information across much of the world. The other distinct form of data collection comes through the use of 'Citizens as Sensors', enabling citizens to rapidly report a vast array of geographic, as well as temporal, incidences using GPS devices and other sensor technology. In the past, this has aided conflict early warning and early response systems, environmental monitoring (i.e. air quality, extreme weather and flooding), and public health (i.e. disease incidence, water / power / food shortages).

This data is then analysed and managed by building citizens' capacity in using open source mapping software, such as Quantum GIS (QGIS) .  For each project, we develop training manuals tailored to the specific community and issue to ensure citizens continue to maintain and manage their own datasets. These datasets can then be shared, visualised and integrated with larger, national datasets.

Case Study: Climate Resilience Mapping

In early 2013, GeoGeo worked in partnership with Sniffer and Adaptation Scotland to help a sustainability group from the Carse of Gowrie, a series of low-lying communities situated between Perth and Dundee in Scotland. The first part of the project ran from February to April with the aim to identify key issues affecting their local environment and map them.  More information on the impact of this pilot project in Scotland can be found here.