Summer 2017

Newsletter Archive


Citizen Science is More Than the Technology

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The Miistakis Institute has been engaged in the field of Citizen Science, in one form or another, for almost two decades. We have engaged citizens and communities of practice for many different research and educational needs, using a wide range of technologies including GIS, databases, custom software, websites, web applications, web mapping and mobile apps. In the coming months the Miistakis Institute will be creating its sixth mobile app for a citizen science program focused on pronghorn.

Technology brings a lot to any citizen science project. It is used to collect and disseminate data, share information about the project, engage users, link data collection to workplace practices and needs, generate results, and much more.

As critical as technology may be for a successful citizen science project, it is not the only important component. The use of technology often attracts the most attention, but it is just a tool and should be employed within the boundaries of a defined need. The defined need determines what technologies are most appropriate and how best to use them within the scope of the larger citizen science project.

There are many critical components to a citizen science project:

  • Establishing program goals and outcomes
  • Defining research or monitoring needs (establishes data collection needs)
  • Identifying a user community and engaging them throughout the length of the project.
  • Using and sharing the data collected.
  • Identifying other ways the data collection can contribute.
  • Evaluating program success

No matter how fancy and impressive the use of technology is, it will only be as successful as the citizen science project itself.