One thing we can take from 2020 is that working together has no borders. With digital technology, we can share and collaborate even if a meeting in "real life" is not possible. We learned that conferences like ECSA2020 can be wonderful and inspiring experiences, even when taking place in the virtual space. We participated in the session about "Designing Citizen Science App Technologies in Practice" - be sure to watch the recording on our Blog! We are very grateful for that chance, thanks a lot!
Another nice side effect of this increased connectivity is that by communicating over the web, each of us can save a massive amount of CO2 by not travelling as much, thus lessen one's personal impact on the planet's climate. If life gives you lemons make lemonade. And share it with your friends and colleagues virtually. Cheers.
But this general mindset of integrating the online world in our daily lives is also something that can benefit Citizen Science in general. We have received feedback from Citizen Scientist about how helpful Citizen Science Apps can be as a motivator to go out and explore the world, especially in social lockdown situations. And we have experienced this effect ourselves, too, on our daily walks to discover things in our neighbourhood - from phenology observations to watching crows interacting, from spotting every little mushroom we can find to posting new street art pieces. It simply helps and gives a purpose. We hope this effect will continue on a broader scale and that we can share this experience with many others, who are not yet familiar with Citizen Science and the communities we create on SPOTTERON.
Woohoo, so many new Citizen Science Apps in 2020!
Despite the Corona Crisis, together with research partners from Europe, Australia and South America, we have been able to launch a broad palette of Citizen Science Apps in 2020. Within just one week, we have built a complete Citizen Science App together with the University of Edinburgh: CoronaReport aims to collect data about psychological health during the pandemic. This was quite record-breaking. Other projects (with more development time) range from ornithology and behavioural science projects like KraMobil and Big City Birds to geoscience Apps like CoastSnap and Soils for Science for our friends in Australia.
And there have been even more apps to build, from Spot-a-Bee in the United Kingdom about the research of pollinators and flowering plants in urban areas to Green Growth Forests to help to protect the rainforests in Suriname, South America. We also have relaunched our ArtSpots project... Yes, 2020 was a good year for Citizen Science and the growing family of partners on the platform.Thank you very much for your trust, all the talks, meetings, exchange of ideas, and for being able to work in this dynamic and amazing field! ❤ Oh well, and for being able to participate in your projects and to discover a Red List species in our home city because of that - what a moment!
Some new Citizen Science projects from 2020 on SPOTTERON:
New features for Citizen Science projects on the platform
In 2020, we have extended SPOTTERON further and co-created new features with the help of the projects on the platform. The new privacy mode for Apps allows users to decide themselves, who's able to see their contributions or their map coordinates, and with Custom Map Views, project organizations and users can display map areas and the data points from regions of interest. We also have developed a new extension for the Spot Update feature, which can now suggest nearby Spots to Citizen Scientists for fostering chronological spot updates and timeline observations in the Citizen Science Apps.
Another big feature from 2020 on the SPOTTERON platform is the "the "Check & Lock" system, with which research and administrators of Citizen Science projects can validate data and lock it, so the data points can not be changed anymore by the participants in the App. This allows keeping a citable data-base in scientific publications and papers while rewarding Citizen Scientists for correct observations. Early in 2020, we have created an important usability improvement together with the researchers, that allows the submission of an unlimited amount of spots even in already-crowded areas.
But not only new features and project apps have been in focus. The underlying system of SPOTTERON has been further improved and optimized to ensure the best possible stability and performance of the Citizen Science applications and tools. In parallel, we are continually working on the new platform version SPOTTERON THREE, which will be a full relaunch based on the most modern web- and app-technologies.
Design makes all the difference
On the design side, we have completely overhauled the intro slides for all projects and improved the content areas in the apps with a unique image separators style. Also, we participated in the writing and the designing of all charts and diagrams in the upcoming "the Science of Citizen Science" book, made possible by the COST action CA15212 in the European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST) initiative. What an honour! Oh, and we designed the winning poster for the SemantiX Earth Observation project at the AGIT 2020 conference. First prize! Nice.
Let's do Horizon 2020 Citizen Science Apps
Another thing happened in 2020. We have been actively participating in Horizon 2020 calls this year and guess what - we are now partners in confirmed projects! There will be more news on that topic in the upcoming year when the first building blocks are in development, and the project's websites go online. But for now, we just want to extend our gratitude to the project teams behind those proposals and also to the European Union for such a wonderful research funding program! Our active participation in Horizon 2020 projects makes the upcoming year 2021 even more exciting - we are looking forward to that experience and let's see if there are also new partnerships emerging from the current Research & Innovation Call to drive the EU Green Deal...
Well, enough retrospectives.
Let's keep up a good spirit in these last days of 2020 and be optimistic for the next one! The holiday season is a good time for gathering strength and getting some rest or refill our energies, so to say. To celebrate this, we have designed this year's edition of the SPOTTERON holiday card for you! We wish you all the best and Happy Holidays! And.. thank you for all the Citizen Science.
We will be out of the office over the holidays and back on the 11th of January 2021. See you on the other side!;)
Our team will be ready to assist also during the holidays.
Cheers and best regards from Vienna!
Your SPOTTERON team