Engaging Citizens – Participatory Sensing

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    Engaging Citizens Participatory Sensing

    Environmental data for applications MMEA WP1 final seminar, 23 Sep 2015Renne TergujeffVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

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    Participatory sensing

    Our activities in the field

    Challenges and approaches

  • Participatory Sensing

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    People with their devices as sensors

    Measuring enables meaningful actions.Are people good as sensors?

    We are everywhere, carrying powerful mobile devices.

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    What is participatory sensing?

    Citizens providing environmental observationswith the help of mobile technologyNew, emerging paradigm in environmental monitoringCrowdsourcing

    Spectrum: experts / trained volunteers / ordinary citizens

    Related: Citizen ScienceScientific work undertaken by members of the general public,often in collaboration with or under the direction of professionalscientists and scientific institutions (Oxford English Dictionary)

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    Citizen Science: A few examples


    Air quality

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    Benefits of participatory sensing

    Cost-efficient extension of spatial and temporal data coverageNear real-time situation awareness for improved decision makingCombining with other sources, finding correlations (validation)Example:

    Remote sensing techniques have already proven their efficiency inforest monitoring.However, they lack adequate ground reference data, because of thehigh costs of the required field work, the lack of field personnel andlegislative restrictions relating to data privacy.Moreover, data is often obsolete since acquisition of frequentobservations is not realistic for economic and practical reasons.

  • VTT activities in the field

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    Water quality monitoring

    Remote sensing products provided bythe Finnish Environment Institute MODIS, 500 m resolution Meris (2011), 300 m resolution

    Levvahti bySYKE&VTT

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    Weekly Average Summer 2011

    Correlation average 2011: 0.72Kotovirta et al.: Participatory surface algal bloommonitoring in Finland in 20112013. EnvironmentalSystems Research 2014 3:24.

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    Relasphone Concept

    Satellite data

    Acquiring forest inventory (e.g. biomass) data withmobile phone

    Reference for satellite image interpretation Outputs thematic forest maps Complete information provision chain for preparing

    forest management plans Basic version of Relasphone available from Google

    Play store for freeIn-situ forest inventory data

    Growing stock volume bytree species



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    From ground photographs to image analysis toforest plan

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    Forest Biomass Analysis Pilot

    55 plots visited over 10 sites in NovemberDecember 2014Basal area measured with Relasphone

    The collected data was compared to reference forest inventorydata for accuracy assessment

    Comparison of Relasphone measurements to reference data over55 plots showed a good agreement (R2 = 0.94)

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    Forest Biomass Analysis Pilot

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    VTT research on participatory sensing

    Participatory Sensing in Environmental Monitoring Experiences (2012, doi: 10.1109/IMIS.2012.70)Participatory surface algal bloom monitoring in Finland in20112013 (journal, Environmental Systems Research, 2014)Citizen Science For Earth Observation: Applications InEnvironmental Monitoring And Disaster Response(2015, doi: 10.5194/isprsarchives-XL-7-W3-1221-2015)Participative Forest In-Situ Measurements For BiomassMapping In Satellite Images Over Durango State, Mexico(oral, IGARSS 2015)

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    VTT research on participatory sensing

    Citizen Science for Earth ObservationInvited session, IGARSS 2015

    Topical projects:MMEA: Levvahti (WP1), China Testbed / Shenzor (WP5)EducEO, for European Space AgencyProposed: CitizenForest Citizen Observatory for ForestMonitoring, Horizon 2020, VTT coordinator, 15 partners, 5 M

    EnviObserver: platform/solution for participatory sensing

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    Shenzor (in MMEA WP5, China Testbed)

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    EducEO Education for Earth Observationcapitalizing on a Citizen Science approach

    Project for the European Space Agency (ESA)VTT, Pajat Solutions, Plan Finlandhttp://educeo.info

    1. State-of-the-art, networks, opportunities2. Demonstration through three pilot projects:

    Forest Biomass AnalysisEmergency Data ManagementWater Quality Monitoring

    3. Roadmap

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    Participatory sensing, an operational scheme

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    EnviObserver participatory sensing solution

    Configurable platform forparticipatory sensingInterfaces, data storing,quality controlVisualization, data access,alert services

    Tailored mobile applicationsfor multiple mobile platformsUtilization of camera, GPSand other integrated sensors

  • Challenges and approaches

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    Primary Challenges

    Citizen Engagement: Generating and sustaining citizen engagementand motivation.Upscaling: Responding to the requirement for sufficient data volumeswith adequate geospatial and temporal distribution, and supporting alsodynamic needs for observation data from specific area and time, forexample aligning with satellite overpasses.Data Quality: Ensuring data accuracy and reliability; Learning aboutthe actual data quality, reaching the desired data quality level, andproving and showing the achieved data quality.Commercial Sustainability: Achieving commercial sustainability forthe Citizen Observatory activity, through the capability to provide end-users benefit and added value.Legal Framework: Ensuring compliance with legislation, regulationsand other boundary conditions. Managing issues of observer privacy,data ownership and forest owners data privacy.

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    Citizen engagement

    Sustained motivation: incentive for the observation workreward: recognition, status, contribution visibility, information,service value, money etc.socializing: involve people, let people connectparticipation: let users feel part of a big common effort, offerbackground info and motivationreminders: ask people for certain types of observations in limitedareas; offer motivation

    GAMIFICATION!Reporting observations needs to be simple, easy and fast

    Minimize startup effort, offer easy setup. Do not require registrationfor basic features. Provide smooth mobile user interface.

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    Participatory Sensing: Vision for 2020?Citizen Science is a widely accepted method forcollecting in-situ data with good quality as asupplementary data source for multiple purposes.

    Leap towards professional andeconomically sustainable operations.

    Thank you!Contact:




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