Science is for everyone. While traditional forms of science require an education and expertise in a specific area, citizen science is the involvement of ordinary people with no necessary expertise helping to advance human knowledge. Citizen scientists, using collaborative technology such as smartphones and the internet, may help to observe their environment and identify issues that can affect themselves and their community. On one hand, citizens’ interests are not always represented with traditional scientific research and public policy and so it is important that they have input with community-minded outcomes. On the other hand, authoritative and research bodies typically have limited resources, so it is important that these bodies draw upon enthusiastic hands and minds as valuable tools to help gather crucial research data.

One local, innovative example is the Atrapa el Tigre project. While this project is in collaboration with the Spanish national government and scientific research body, in principle it relies on citizen involvement as citizen scientists. So we ask, do mosquitoes really bug you? You can help to identify the prevalence and spread of the invasive Tiger mosquito species (Aedes albopictus) by downloading the Tigatrapp smartphone application via the project’s website. Not only is this insect very annoying due to its aggressive bites to feed on your blood, it is a potential vector for tropical viral diseases. It originates from south-east Asia but was first seen in Catalunya in 2004 and has since arrived to the Balearic Islands, Valencia and Murcia. By participating, you can help control the spread and impact of the Tiger mosquito on your community.

Another example of citizen science is the CITI-SENSE project (@Citizensobs), drawing upon the public masses to develop the concept of a citizens observatory in cities like Barcelona. Using new technologies such as sensitive yet small environmental monitors, CITI-SENSE endeavors to create citizens’ observatories in eight different cities around Europe. Initially, they will consist of technology-empowered citizens monitoring their environment in Barcelona, Belgrade, Edinburgh, Haifa, Ljubljana, Oslo, Ostrava and Vienna. Later, citizens’ observatories are seen to be able to contribute to and participate in environmental and health governance in most major cities in the world. In Barcelona, more specific applications of a citizens observatory will be with interest groups such as bicycle commuters and asthmatic outpatients, who may have more to gain by helping to identify and address air pollution level breaches requiring regulation under the European Union standards.

More and more, technologies are becoming available which easily allow anyone to become a citizen scientist, passively collecting information about one’s immediate environment and relaying it to a citizens observatory service such as advice or action to address environmental issues. For example, would you like to know if air quality in your home or work neighborhood is better or worse than other neighbourhoods? If so, we want you to join our citizens observatory! You can join by following us onFacebook and Twitter: @BarcelonaCitObs while we polish the technological tools that will empower you. Science is for everyone, and everyone deserves a healthy environment to live in, so help us to help you ensure it. 

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 308524.