CitiObs – Enhancing Citizen Observatories for healthy, sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities
CitiObs will consolidate and apply tools and practice-based knowledge for co-creating data, knowledge and local action regarding the environmental impacts of climate change and human activity in the urban context via Citizen Observatories.
- 2023 - 2026
- Margaret Gold
Nilu Stiftelsen Norsk Institutt Forluftforskning, Goeteborgs Universitet, National Ecological Centre Of Ukraine, Stichting Ihe Delft Institute For Water Education, Rijksinstituut Voor Volksgezondheid En Milieu, University College Dublin, National University Of Ireland, Dublin, Dreven Srl, Eurocities Asbl, Centro De Investigacion Ecologica Y Aplicaciones Forestales, Institut D'arquitectura Avancada De Catalunya, Airly Spolka Z Ograniczona Odpowiedzialnoscia, Secure Dimensions Gmbh, Airsentinels
Citizen Observatories (COs) are community-based environmental monitoring initiatives and platforms that engage multiple-stakeholders - including citizens, community groups and civil society organisations - in gathering data and sharing observations, typically via mobile phone or the web. COs can contribute to environmental governance, policy-making, and individual behaviour change via the bi-directional flow of data and information, the enhancement of earth observation systems with citizen-generated observations ‘in situ’.
The CO tools and platforms developed in CitiObs, in co-creation with key stakeholder groups, will enhance existing and new citizen observatories to engage citizens and marginalised communities, add value to environmental observations in the urban context, increase and validate citizen observations of the urban environment as part of the existing in-situ Earth Observation systems, co-create inclusive local actions for sustainability and ensure that CO data contributes to research and policy development towards the objectives of the European Green Deal.
The pressure on cities to speed up the process of emissions reduction from pollutants and climate gases is overwhelming. The required measures are likely to be found not only in technological development but also in the required social transformations. These transformations include increasing citizen involvement and engagement with science and policy, increasing awareness of the underlying issues and promoting societal actions to protect the urban environment.
Over the life time of the project, CitiObs will launch in partnership with 5 Frontrunner cities across Europe, will expand to partner further with 30 Implementer cities, and will then showcase the CitiObs methodologies in 50 Fellow cities. The Citizen Science Lab at Leiden University co-leads the city-based initiatives in the Netherlands together with RIVM and IHE Delft.
Technological innovations need to be considered within the context of multi-level vertical and horizontal governance structures where citizen participation is recognized and included. CitiObs will support citizen observatories in distinct cities to create/enhance/or scale up inclusive and diverse citizen observatories, fostering in particular an active role of citizens in the observation of the urban environment using low-cost sensor technologies and wearables, with a particular focus on air quality and related environmental measures. CitiObs will formalise, valorise and legitimise the role of citizen observations.
Within this project the Citizen Science Lab of Leiden University leads the work on the social dimensions of enhanced citizen observatories, and the advancement of innovative new methods for Inclusive citizen and stakeholder engagement. One of the resulting outputs of the project will be a ‘Leave No One Behind’ Toolkit, which will consolidate existing approaches and share newly developed and tested approaches for inclusive (multi-stakeholder) engagement. The aim of these tools and methods is to ensure the diverse and representative inclusion of citizens across the dimensions of gender, sociocultural origin, religious affiliation, literacy levels, social status and age, and to engage women, disabled groups and ethnic minorities in particular, in the activities of the COs (from co-creation of monitoring tasks, to data-gathering and co-design of local actions & social innovations).
CitiObs will engage diverse citizen groups in COs in order to raise interest in and awareness of environmental issues amongst citizens from all backgrounds (with a particular focus on marginalised groups), involving them in observations of their environment, and enabling the co-creation of collective solutions to tackle these issues and reduce air pollution.
Best practice mechanisms for inclusive engagement across cultures, disciplines, genders and ages within urban communities, including ethnic minorities, disabled groups, women, seniors, LGTB, immigrants, racial/cultural minorities and people with mobility challenges will be applied in CitiObs from a range of sources – from the OCSDnet Framework for Open Science towards social and environmental well-being - from the RRI domain for Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (as gathered in SUPER MoRRI and further developed in NewHoRRIzon) - and from fellow CS practitioners defining and developing best practice via the COST Action CS and Women Working Group and the ECSA Empowerment, Inclusiveness & Equity Working Group.