Citizen Science

In our October newsletter we wrote briefly about the Grow Observatory initiative, a research project based on the participation of citizens – in this case farmers  –  in the collection of data about the soil. We believe that this connection between researchers and citizens should be used to the full and if possible strengthened.

From the outset, our own SIP Forum has been able to involve and empower our members and affiliated groups. One example is the campaign on the concrete census. In order to involve younger people, the Forum can now make use of the tools for participation that use new technology. We can create a tool for democratic control based on the responsible participation of individuals, to identify and assess soil degradation. How? With a phone app. Such an app would allow the systematic collection of data and information about the soil, to be recorded on dynamic maps with the possibility of differentiated functionality.

The data is collected by individuals who are attuned to the question of the protection of the soil / land / landscape and who can provide – through photos, descriptions and information – details of situations in which a certain soil is being degraded. We are not talking about soil science data in the strict sense, but rather about easily obtainable information about pollution, soil sealing, misuse and so on. The participating individual fills in the spaces in the app and adds photos and comments.

Researchers will collect and organize this data, inputting it into an interactive map. The comparative treatment of the data will provide bases for comparison and development based on the direct contact of every individual with their particular circumstances, as well as that of adjacent or more distant areas (municipality, province, region).

Is this science fiction? Absolutely not, there are already apps based on citizens’ collection of data. As well as Grow Observatory, in Italy there is NOma which is used to identify locations and businesses connected with the various mafias. Better known is Ushahidi, a piece of free open source software for the interactive collection, visualization and geolocalization of information.

In practical terms, this action will involve all the members of the SIP Forum and other volunteers  like the young people of FridaysForFuture (FFF).

The action is open to everyone, not just members of the SIP Forum. To be informed and potentially involved, get in touch with suolo.europa@gmail.com.