The importance of citizen scientists has been highlighted in a new study, Citizen Science and Water Quality Monitoring: Evidence from Dublin and Beyond, carried out by DCU’s Water Institute and Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics.
The paper addresses the role of the citizen scientist in data collection for a range of scientific purposes, but especially in the area of water quality monitoring. It discusses how citizen scientists can be engaged through self-organised community-based monitoring programmes or as part of research projects from academic or voluntary monitoring bodies such as that Water Institute’s own WaterBlitz, which took place in late 2019.
While there have been challenges over the years to the validity of citizen scientist data, it is now widely accepted that these can be overcome through research design and scientific training, while also engaging with the citizens’ motivations for participating in their projects. These projects can operate at large geographic scales and over long periods of time, while the data collected can potentially improve the detection of environmental changes at an early stage. By collecting data on water quality, citizens and policy makers can work together to develop solutions at both local and larger scales, while empowering local communities, giving them an increased awareness of their environment.
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