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Use of Data from Citizen Observatories to Complement GEOSS Repositories – Experiences from EU Funded Projects

Popescu.jpgA Blog post by Ioana Popescu (WDS Scientific Committee Member)

Citizen science is getting more and more attention worldwide; in particular, there is a growing interest in involving citizens in data collection due to its capability to complement the acquisition of data classically accomplished through existing complex instrumentation networks. Scientists have experimented with multiple forms of citizen science projects, which have been successfully implemented in many fields. The value of using citizen contributions has been proven—or at least explored—in almost all scientific domains, and its potential is currently also being investigated in the processes of decision- and policy-making.

There are many definitions of citizen science. The definition most often used is that of Buytaert et al. (2014): The participation of the general public (i.e. non-scientists) in the generation of new knowledge. In this blog post, I focus on citizen science from the perspective of data collected by citizens and the use of these data, but there is also much research looking into how to involve citizens, and consequently, how they are participating in the collection of data. Data CollectionTaking the latter viewpoint, there is now lots of terminology that can be found in the literature; for example, citizen observatory (CO), citizen sensing, trained volunteers, crowdsourcing, community-based monitoring, volunteered geographic information, eyewitnesses, and so on. 

As mentioned in the title, I would like to spend the remainder of this blog post briefly introducing four Horizon 2020 funded projects that have used innovative technologies for collecting data with the help of citizen scientists. The projects ran from the second half of 2016 until mid-2019, and were clustered under WeObserve, which examines the challenges faced by COs in terms of awareness, acceptability, and sustainability. They shared the specific goal that their final (analyzed and processed) data products would not only complement existing data elements within the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), but also become new GEOSS contributions.

SCENT (Smart Toolbox for Engaging Citizens into a People-Centric Observation Web)

Citizens were engaged in environmental monitoring of land-cover/use changes using their smartphones and tablets, enabling them to become the ‘eyes’ of the policymakers. In particular, the project looked at two pilots—the urban case of the Kifisos river in Attica, Greece and the rural case of the Danube Delta in Romania—where the citizen-collected data were used to assess flood models and flooding patterns. You can read more about this project here.

LANDSENSE (Connecting citizens with satellite imagery to transform environmental decision making)

The focus of this project was on the potential of Earth observations taken by citizen scientists to augment and improve the way we see, map, and understand the world. Three main areas of application were selected as demonstrators: urban landscape dynamics, agricultural land use, and forest and habitat modelling. Read more about LANDSENSE here.Data Aquisition

Data collection cycle for citizen science campaigns in water management. The study focus is highlighted in yellow. (Taken from IEEE article: Citizens’ Campaigns for Environmental Water Monitoring: Lessons From Field Experiments.)

Groundtruth2.0 (How to impact decision making with citizen observatories)

The interaction was investigated between people and technology when it comes to setting up a successful system for land and natural resources management. The project combined the social dimensions of COs and enabling technologies so that the implementation of each observatory was tailored to its envisaged societal and economic impacts with a specific emphasis on flora and fauna, as well as water availability and quality. Find out more about the project here.

GROW (Grow Observatory)

In this project, citizen scientists collected information on land, soil, and water resources to answer a long-standing challenge for space science; namely, the validation of soil moisture detection from satellites. Read more here.

Reference
Buytaert, W., et al: Citizen science in hydrology and water resources: opportunities for knowledge generation, ecosystem service management, and sustainable development, Front. Earth Sci., 2, 26, doi: 10.3389/feart.2014.00026, 2014.

Health Data Challenges Regarding ‘Scientific Medical Processing Challenges’

Marc NyssenA Blog post by Marc Nyssen (WDS Scientific Committee Member)

Recently, the biomedical and clinical engineers who are associated with the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE) and also belonging to the International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine (IUPESM)—the umbrella organization linking the engineers at IFMBE and the medical physics experts at the International Organization for Medical Physics—took the initiative to include competitions called ‘scientific challenges’ as a part of their conferences. The purpose of these challenges is to encourage young researchers to develop their skills by showing how they can extract information from biomedical datasets and report on their results.

A ‘challenge call’ is made public a few months before the conference alongside a deadline for the result papers, which are then evaluated by a jury. Introduced by Prof Paulo Carvalho from Coimbra University in Portugal and Prof Ratko Magjarevic from Zagreb University in Croatia, the challenges have proved quite successful, with the participation of 20–30 groups of young researchers responding to the first call.

A major problem for the organizers, however, has been to find adequate datasets containing well-documented biomedical data, such as respiratory measurements, electroencephalography recordings, electro-cardiac recordings, and the like. While many state that Big Data is widely accessible and available, well-documented and consistent biomedical datasets are difficult to find. This has resulted in the IFMBE having to actually sponsor teams to collect appropriate datasets of biomedical measurements specifically for the ‘scientific challenge’ competitions!

To address such issues, programmes are now being started that encourage universities and research groups in the Biomedical Sciences to make their datasets public while taking adequate precautions to protect the privacy of patients when such datasets are linked to physical persons. IFMBE is currently exploring practical ways to constitute collections of well-documented biomedical datasets that comply with the FAIR principles and that are made publicly available to researchers via a repository. Moreover, it is encouraging member societies at large to take up similar schemes either themselves or via universities.

To be continued...

A Survey of Research Datasets in a University

Toshihiko IyemoriA Blog post by Toshihiko Iyemori (WDS Scientific Committee Member)

Universities are inherently multidisciplinary and often hold a wide variety of research datasets. This makes them an ideal place to develop and test systems to manage, host, and access multidisciplinary and heterogeneous research datasets. However, the existence of such datasets and how they are preserved is not always well known. At Kyoto University, a survey was conducted by the Academic Data Innovation Unit* to gain a basic understanding of this information towards the planning of a new research data management system. The survey was sent to all researchers at Kyoto University, more than 3,000 of them, in December 2018 and we collected their responses until the end of January 2019. Although the survey was not mandatory, valid responses were received from 244 researchers ranging across the disciplines in Figure 1. From the results, we see that the largest proportion of datasets are held by the Life Sciences. This may not be the reality, however, since we received an unexpectedly low response from the Technology departments, which form the largest group at Kyoto University.

Figure 1: Responses by discipline

Figure 1: Responses by discipline

Figure 2 indicates the level of openness for each of the datasets identified by researchers. As can be seen, the majority of datasets are shared within a research group only and are not open to others (or even open at all). The implication is that the principle use case we need to account for on campus when developing a data management system is the sharing of data among members within each research group rather than making the data completely open.

Figure 2: Number of open and closed datasets

Figure 2: Number of open and closed datasets

Despite the above, we believe that it should be possible for some researchers to make their datasets open to all if they are provided with appropriate technical support. Proper education and training on open data and data management will also assist in this process. In particular, around 20 data repositories—mostly hosted by research institutes within Kyoto University—are of especially high quality, and we would expect that about half of them could potentially become CoreTrustSeal-certified WDS Regular Members.

*The Academic Data Innovation Unit is a virtual organization at Kyoto University and is currently chaired by Prof Shoji Kajita. One of its main tasks is to propose a research data management system to accommodate the needs of all researchers at Kyoto University.

Enabling the Next Generation of Data Managers to be Part of the WDS Scientific Committee

A Blog post by Alice Frémand (WDS-ECR Network Representative on the WDS Scientific Committee)

As a Co-Chair of the WDS Early Career Researchers and Scientists (ECR) Network, I had the immense privilege of representing ECRs on the WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC). In this WDS Blog post, I want to share my experiences and encourage all ECRs to join the WDS-ECR Network.

The WDS-ECR Network was set up in September 2017 to promote scientific data stewardship, share best practices, and foster better communication among ECRs. As a co-lead of the Network, alongside Sabrina Delgado Arias (Science Systems and Applications, Inc.) and Ivan Pyshnograiev (Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute), I coordinate events, speaker series, and periodic teleconferences, as well as liaise with other ECR communities to share ideas on future data practices.

In 2018, the WDS-SC invited a representative of the ECR Network to take part in their meetings by opening up a one-year rolling seat on the Committee. This initiative facilitates communication with the next generations of data managers and enables WDS to develop activities targeting ECR’s interests. I represented the Network on the WDS-SC from July 2018 to June 2019. Being a member of the WDS-SC was an amazing experience and opportunity.

All SC members are working pro bono to share their ideas on how to best shape the future of data stewardship for better science. This is very exciting! SC members meet each month via teleconference, and then twice a year in person where most of the plans for actions are validated. In order to reach out to different communities, face-to-face meetings of the WDS-SC are often co-located with other WDS events such as regional conferences. I attended two such meetings, one in November 2018 in Cape Town, and another in May 2019 in Beijing. During the very intense two-day meetings, SC members present their ideas and discuss the tasks for WDS to undertake in the following months. I got to meet exceptional data experts from around the world, and took part in the decisions, and strategic actions and activities of WDS.

WDS-AO_award_presentIn particular, I participated in the preparation of a training workshop targeting ECRs that is sponsored by a grant of the European Geosciences Union. I saw how much work is involved in setting up such events, and I am sure it will be very rewarding for PhD students and Post-docs to learn more about Research Data Management. The training workshop is a great opportunity for those attending and crucial for the future of science. Being part of the WDS-SC provided me with the chance to share my inputs when necessary. I really appreciated seeing that my suggestions were valued. I thank all the SC members for their warm welcome and for the trust I was given. I also encourage all early career scientists and researchers who work with data to join the WDS-ECR Network. It might be you representing the ECR Network on the WDS-SC in the future!

Talking of which...Sabrina Delgado Arias will represent the WDS ECR Network on the WDS-SC from July 2019 to June 2020. We wish her all the best!

WDS ECR Network contact:

SC_20th_meeting_2SC_20th_meeting_3

Information Maintenance as a Practice of Care: An Invitation to Reflect and Share

We would like to point to the release of the following paper, which we believe will be of direct interest to the WDS community:

 – Information Maintenance as a Practice of Care: An Invitation to Reflect and Share

In this piece, the authors begin to describe intersections of information maintenance and care ethics in ways that are real and meaningful for information maintainers (i.e., those who manage, maintain, and preserve information systems).

Contributors to this document have varied experiences with information maintenance: community organizers and facilitators, archivists, repository managers, project managers, designers, librarians, researchers, grantmakers, educators, and more. The authors invite those in occupations and roles who understand that the relationship is especially valuable between information maintenance and an ethic of care to read, react, share, and engage with this potluck of ideas. Please circulate widely!

If you and your work are represented in this invitation, please join and contribute to the Information Maintainers community. For more on the community, please visit http://themaintainers.org/info-mc-about-us.

Enabling FAIR Data Project Nature Commentary: Make Scientific Data FAIR

We would like to direct you to Nature Commentary published on 5 June 2019 by the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee as a result of the work of the project.

 – Make Scientific Data FAIR (Nature 570, 27–29; doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01720-7)

The main point of the article is to encourage the broad research community to work towards open and FAIR data and put in place the policies, guidelines, incentives, and funding necessary to support the needed culture and systemic change around how we handle our scientific data.

 – Press release

In the same Nature publication is a companion piece on credit for data that might also be of interest:

 – Credit Data Generators for Data Reuse (Nature 570, 30–32; doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01715-4)