From the 5th to the 8th of October, the ECSA Citizen Science Conference 2022 took place in Berlin under the motto "Citizen Science for Planetary Health."
We have been attending this fantastic bi-annual event (for sure) and spent four days in Germany's capital to learn more about citizen science and various approaches, definitions, and projects while being able to present the SPOTTERON App platform. It was our second ECSA conference in Berlin, and revisiting the MFN Museum for Nature's unbelievable dinosaur hall for the opening ceremony never gets old (pun intended). Having a drink and some food at the impressive fossil exhibits, towering the scenery is simply mind-blowing and a perfect setting to say "Hi" once more to friends and partners in the Citizen Science Community from all across Europe face to face. Important Sidenote: thanks to the ECSA organization team for making the conference vegan and vegetarian!
But, for us, the conference started already before the opening and the dinosaurs. Beginning on the afternoon of the first day, Claudia Göbel invited us to contribute to a co-creation workshop, which aimed to write and publish a small magazine - a "Zine" - together with the workshop participants. First, Rick Hall introduced to the group how to fold your own little booklet/magazine if you like to create your personal Zine as a single edition, which is quite a handy skill! But for being able to make a printable Zine for all conference participants, which can be distributed, we helped out with the power of digital design and our experience in print productions.
After a short introduction on how to contribute and the basics of how intellectual property rights work in the digital space to be sure no copyright/IP violations will find their way into the outcome, the workshop production started. But the "Zine" should not only be a collection of digital texts - it was our task to live layout all the contributions by participants in Adobe Indesign and prepare a printable document. For that purpose, we have set up a content-sharing environment for exchange and worked live "on stage" with a beamer showing the progress to everyone. After additional hours together with Claudia Göbel of finetuning, polishing, vector tracing, typography, and layout work, the PDF was ready for printing. With the help of a local print store, the "Zine" was ready to be distributed the next day at the ECSA conference! It was amazing to hold it in our hands for the first time, and the Zine has been quite a talking point at the ECSA conference, too.
You can find the online version here as PDF, and even contribute your pages and content online via the #EIEZine hashtag.
The following days have been completely dedicated to Citizen Science. There was always an exciting topic to attend with a wide range of talks, sessions, poster presentations, workshops, and more activities.
When a major Citizen Science conference is happening, we always bring a suitcase full of materials and devices for live demonstrations of how interactive, user-driven CS Apps extend Citizen Science with community building and user immersion. So many exchanges and talks - thank you all for the interest, questions, and time!
Multiple Poster Session have been part of the ECSA Citizen Science Conference 2022. For SPOTTERON, we also had two contributions in the poster session on day two about Citizen Science technology and science communication/community building.
Our first poster introduced the essential knowledge about how a Citizen Science App works on a technology level and about the importance of firm user privacy by design for science ethics in the digital space. Bottom-up, the poster follows a user-made observation of a butterfly and its path through servers and services into a data set and interactions with the in-App community. Various technology services like GEO coordinates, external sensors, media processing, and more are building the backbone of interactive and performant Citizen Science on mobile phones and devices.
For projects on the SPOTTERON Citizen Science App platform, we not only develop mobile Apps for user participation but also provide an optimized digital infrastructure to run Citizen Science Apps. This IT environment provides a safe, reliable, and digital-ethical way without constant user surveillance or user tracking.
Our second poster put the extended effects of digital-social community features, integrated into all Citizen Science Apps on the platform, into the spotlight. Every CS project running on SPOTTERON has a wide range of communication features available right from the start. Each project App includes a community toolkit, which allows both citizens and scientists to interact, exchange messages about contributions, and create networks. Furthermore, there are advanced tools available for the project itself to disseminate information, news, or links directly via the project App. Integrating digital social community features into Citizen Science results in a wide range of benefits for user motivation, learning effects, and better data quality outcomes.
We plan to create separate blog posts in the next week(s) here on SPOTTERON, so best subscribe to the Blog Updates to get notified!
Another highlight for us was the interactive session by the YouCount project team. YouCount is one of our active Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe consortium participations, in which we are task leaders for creating the Youcount Youth social Citizen Science App. In 10 case studies across Europe, the project's research team works closely with youth from various backgrounds to identify drivers of social inclusion.
A core team of the YouCount researchers and work package leaders presented approaches and challenges in group sessions. Held as an interactive session, the participants worked on identifying challenges in groups based on table seating. The work groups collected their feedback and ideas about what they think about different aspects of the YouCount project and on social inclusion of youth in Citizen Science.
This feedback will help us to think out of the box and create research & innovation with the Horizon 2020 project. For us at SPOTTERON, the inputs and thoughts about the Citizen Science App and its interactive approach were exciting to listen to since this is our core task in the YouCount project.
With the communication-rich, modern, and case-study-specific App toolkit, young people across the EU will record data about their experiences on mobile phones and on the project's website with laptops or desktop computers. The data will help to shape an understanding of the youth's situation and environment in the EU and how to support and improve the lives of young people. In addition, science communication and community building play a huge role in the digital toolkit for the exchange of ideas, feedback, and cross-youth interaction.
YouCount also had a poster hanging in the ECSA conference's poster session about selected case studies and methodologies, right across from SPOTTERON's posters which was a nice synergy. Learn more about the YouCount Project here: www.youcountproject.eu
As a special treat for participants of the ECSA 2022 conference, we also packed some of our creative Citizen Science T-Shirts, Laptop Stickers, and Caps. Designing and making "Citizen Science" wear is one of our side projects, with new motives ready for print coming whenever we find the time to design.
The response to those little presents was overwhelming - it was a pleasure to get so much positive feedback on the designs we made in our spare time! On the last conference day, we, as usual, gave the shirts, stickers, and caps away to those who raised their interest on the SPOTTERON table before.
If you want to see all the available designs of the "I love Science" collection and also those about Citizen Science in general, hop over to our Citizen Science T-Shirt store at https://www.spotteron.app/store#!/
A Citizen Science Conference would not be complete without a social event - and the ECSA 2022 Conference was no different. The organization team did a great job choosing a more party-esk approach instead of a formal dinner! With drinks and a super-tasty buffet of (again) vegan and vegetarian food like the best lasagne we have ever tasted and amazing pumpkin souffle (excuse me if that's not the proper term; I am more familiar with insects and spiders than food taxonomy;). The #ECSA2022 party took place in "Jung&Schönn," a friendly venue with a bar and a dance floor in the cellar. Needless to say, it was a long evening, full of laughter, making new friends, hearing incredible stories, and discussing things and personal views of all and beyond.
Last but not least, at the end session, the location of the next European Citizen Science Conference 2024 has been revealed - and it will take place in our home base, Vienna, Austria!
The Austrian Citizen Science Platform "Österreich forscht", rooted in the University for Life Science Vienna (BOKU), and the Museum of Natural History "NHM Vienna" are joining up in organizing the conference and hosting #ECSA2024.
Our whole team was very happy about the news since not only are we working and designing in the same city (and will be able to host some friends visiting the conference probably), but we are also contributing to the "Österreich forscht" national Citizen Science Hub for providing the website and sometimes also media & print and provide the online platform for the supporter association "Friends of the Natural History Museum Vienna" as a member. I am sure there will be some things to extend for #ECSA2024!
We are looking forward to meet you in 2 years in our beautiful home city over Viennese Coffee (there are many types of that) and Strudel with apples;)
Before returning home to Vienna, we will stop by Leipzig for a week to meet with representatives and stakeholders of initiatives for city transformation and smart city development. We have been working on plans to prototype an innovative application of the Citizen Science technology of SPOTTERON in an urban context for some time and are ready to work with city management and associations for a first use case. Thanks to connections made in the past, Leipzig could be the right place to start a first test. Let's see what the future holds.
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