GEO Citizen Science

GEO Citizen Science


The widespread adoption of mobile devices and social media platforms, coupled with the development of low-cost sensors, has made it easier for the public to contribute to and engage in scientific and engineering research and monitoring. This collaborative exchange with the scientific community, in which members of the public actively join the co-creation of new scientific knowledge, is known as “citizen science”.

Citizen science observations, data and information can complement official, traditional in situ and remote sensing Earth observation data sources in many application areas relevant to GEO. Governmental entities around the globe, from Australia and Asia to Europe and North America, are supporting the development and integration of new sources of in situ Earth observations data collection at local, regional, and global scales through citizen science observatories and projects.

Building on these initiatives, this GEO Citizen Science will focus on the following goals:

  • Demonstrate the value of citizen science data for advancing the GEOSS priorities in terms of research and informing policy;
  • Facilitate the creation of a linked ecosystem of open citizen science data and supporting resources under GEOSS and the GEOSS Data Management Principles; and,
  • Increase the use of citizen science in GEO by supporting global coordination and collaboration within and beyond GEO.

Overcoming institutional barriers, perceptions and technical issues will be addressed and resolved by the Initiative in terms of heterogeneity in data models, flavours and data formats formed by the long tail of citizen science projects. Furthermore, we will address data accessibility, metadata harvesting, data quality documentation, annotation and connectivity with the GEOSS platform.

Planned Activities

Planned activities for 2020-2022 include:

  • Support and elevate demonstration projects that showcase the use and value of scalable citizen science projects–e.g., citizen observatories, Earth Challenge 2020, Citizen Science Earth Observation Lab (CSEOL) pilot projects–particularly in the provision of in-situ data;
  • Showcase the use of citizen science data sets (from the GEOSS-Data Core) in combination with other Earth Observation products and for validation and exploitation of Earth observations via the Earth Challenge 2020, the citizen observatories and other projects;
  • Demonstrate new technologies such as machine learning trained by citizen science data (i.e., “human in the loop”), to improve calibration/validation of sensors, increase the speed and accuracy of image processing, provide in situ ground truth data, and/or augment and enhance validation and knowledge extraction;
  • Identify and prioritize gaps in in situ observations for GEOSS, and then identify existing citizen science projects that could cover these gaps, for example through the SDG framework;
  • Mobilize existing and newly emerging citizen science initiatives to make the data that they collect available through the GEOSS platform (e.g., Earth Challenge 2020 and the citizen observatories);
  • Increase discovery and access of open science resources including citizen science data and complementary data sets; data collection tools (hardware and software); platforms for data analysis and visualization; educational resources such as lesson plans or other toolkits; and, publications;
  • Showcase best practices for discovery and access of citizen-observed data through GEOSS, and the implementation of the GEOSS Data Management Principles;
  • Provide guidelines for using and managing citizen science in GEOSS incorporating use of existing standards for data collection and management;
  • Working with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), conduct interoperability experiments and recommend how to offer access to citizen science through GEOSS;
  • Conduct interoperability experiments about data access, single sign on mechanism and data quality, data annotation and user feedback;
  • Generate “data profiles” and data collection protocols that can serve for scaling up citizen science;
  • Based on the work described above, develop recommendations for the increased use of citizen science data for GEO, and for using products available through GEOSS in citizen science communities; and
  • Working closely with the Citizen Science Global Partnership, leverage GEO’s role as a global convener to help keep track of and coordinate a range of complementary activities led by different communities.


For more information about the GEO Citizen Science please contact GEO Secretariat