Coordination of citizens' observatories initiatives
Citizens' observatories are community-based environmental monitoring and information systems which build on innovative and novel Earth observation applications embedded in portable or mobile personal devices. Thanks to the vast array of ubiquitous information and data they can provide, citizens' observatories can enable authorities to obtain evidence and inform environmental policy making, complementing more authoritative in-situ observation and monitoring networks and systems with a very positive cost-benefit ratio.
Citizens are also provided with new opportunities to address environmental issues affecting them and to influence local decision making. Social innovation can be achieved through these novel partnerships which involve the private and public sector, NGOs and citizens, offering new business opportunities for SMEs in the fields of Earth observation and mobile technologies.
These activities are, however, at an early stage and still largely rely on research funding. Risks and opportunities still have to be explored, which requires a comprehensive analysis of their full potential and applicability. There is a need to create a citizens' observatories knowledge base in Europe across disciplines to avoid duplication, ensure interoperability, create synergies and facilitate its gradual uptake by environmental authorities. With an increasing number of citizen-based initiatives, a coordinated approach for the integration of citizens' observations is becoming necessary in Earth observation systems at local, regional and also global level.
This action should bring environmental citizens' observatories and related communities together with existing relevant activities to benchmark and pinpoint best practices, identify barriers and synergies, promote standards, facilitate integration and stronger cooperation solutions, and stimulate a gradual uptake by public authorities of these new technological and methodological approaches. Relevant issues such as technologies and methodologies for engaging citizens, social innovation opportunities, sustainability approaches including the role of the European private sector, especially SMEs, as well as data management and interoperability of platforms should be addressed. A coherent approach should also be taken to ensuring the delivery and uptake of in-situ data and information coming from citizens observatories through GEOSS and Copernicus. Hence, proposals should include a broad range of stakeholders, including public bodies, private sector representatives, research institutions – including from social sciences and humanities – NGOs and citizens' associations.
To address these points effectively, social science research tools and methods will be required.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Up to one action shall be funded.
The project results are expected to contribute to:
- improved coordination between existing environmental citizens' observatories and related activities at regional, European and international level;
- expanded geographical coverage and use of environmental citizens' observation through an effective promotion and uptake of best practices and standards;
- wider dissemination and uptake of efficient information and data management and preservation strategies for existing and future citizens' observatory platforms;
- increased opportunities for SMEs and businesses in the field of in-situ Earth observation systems;
- better awareness and use of the citizens' observatories by environmental and disaster risk and emergency management decision makers;
- increased value added of GEOSS and Copernicus through the use of citizens' observations;
- a leading role for Europe in the integration and uptake of citizens' information in GEOSS.