Social and Semantic Computing to Support Citizen Science

There is an increasing awareness that the only way to comprehend environmental response to climate change is through mobilizing amateurs to make and report observations. Thus citizen science, which has always played a role in biology, is in many ways now crucial to both science and conservation. We describe our recent work in publishing citizen science data on the Semantic Web, enabling us to integrate it with other sources of biodiversity and biocomplextity data (e.g. range maps, food webs, conservation and invasiveness status, etc.) that we and others have already exposed as RDF. The system concept we are working towards is a “global human sensor net” – a data stream that can be mined for species of interest (invasive, threatened, etc.) and anomalies (e.g. species out of their known range.); and which supports drilling down on observations to see what relevant related data (genomic, behavioral, etc.) already exist in the knowledge base. This work includes a mobile phone app for automatically uploading and annotating photographs with RDF; mechanisms for incorporating Twitter feeds; crowdsourcing of data collection and image identification; newer, better ontologies and instance data; and the creation of an integrated testbed triple store, to support both biodiversity and semantic web researchers. It builds on our previous semantic eco-blogging work which we described at the 2007 Microsoft eScience Conference. We also describe plans for an annual, loosely coordinated, international week of citizen science that we are helping to organize. This event will serve to focus global efforts on the creation of an ecology of human and software services to support requests for data, collection of data, integration of data, and querying of data.
Date: October 15, 2009
Book Title: Proc. of the 2009 Microsoft eScience Workshop
Type: Misc


  author = "Joel Sachs and Tejas Lagvankar and Tim Finin",
  title = "{Social and Semantic Computing to Support Citizen Science}",
  month = "October",
  year = "2009",
  booktitle = "Proc. of the 2009 Microsoft eScience Workshop",