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Protecting the natural environment with open mapping

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Part of OSW2021 - Public Engagement & Citizen Science Day

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		Protecting the natural environment with open mapping image

Protecting the natural environment - Citizen Science perspectives of open mapping

This two-part session on Citizen Science is moderated by Niall Ó Brolcháin. and will include two short talks and time for audience discussion.

Talk 1 - Citizen Science innovation: OpenLitterMap – the story of an Open Platform to Map Litter

OpenLitterMap is an Open Source, interactive, and accessible database of the world's litter and plastic pollution. Inspired by the open values and democratic research community at OpenStreetMap, we apply the same principles of crowdsourcing and open data to pollution. Despite about 900 tonnes of plastic estimated to be going into the oceans every hour, and trillions of plastic cigarette butts poisoning nearly every inch of the planet, very little is known about the pre-marine terrestrial characteristics of plastic pollution such as how it moves across space and time. Due to its ubiquity and notoriety, litter mapping has an extremely low barrier to entry that can bring many people into data collection and the scientific and public process for the first time. This remarkably low barrier to entry makes litter mapping an important catalyst to build up society's capacity at producing huge new datasets.

Although the majority of society has been equipped with powerful devices that can collect data, currently not even a university campus has had its litter mapped. In a few years producing huge global datasets will become the new normal when citizen science is supported and developed. But to achieve this, academics need to take an interest in mapping pollution and promoting shared open values.

Talk 2 - Participatory GIS mapping of Achill Island’s ecosystem services: experiences from a Citizen Science workshop for open data  

The use of Citizen Science is under-utilised to date in the context of decision-making processes. This is especially the case for climate adaptation planning where incorporation of local knowledge is expected. In this presentation we report on a pilot workshop undertaken on Achill Island to record local knowledge of the benefits the local communities get from their natural environment (known as ‘ecosystem services’). Structuring the output as open-source map ensures the citizen science data is in a form compatible with planning processes.

The workshop proved to be a useful tool for participants to express their opinion, generate debate and to produce data. There are, however, risks from both the open nature of the data and from the initial framing of the ‘question’. These will be discussed in the context of the workshop.

Speakers

Speaker Talk 1: Seán Lynch is the founder and developer of OpenLitterMap. He began studying litter mapping in 2008 when he was introduced to GIS in 1st year Geography as an undergrad. He since worked as a divemaster in the tropics where he got loads of ideas about how to develop Citizen Science, and did x2 M.Sc. to develop various methodologies before teaching himself how to code and bringing OpenLitterMap into production. OLM has now been used by over 4000 people in 80 countries who have crowdsourced more than 150,000 images which are being used to train the OpenLitterAI, a real-time litter detector which will make citizen science even more fun and accessible. However, despite the potential for citizen science to alleviate some of our urgent global problems, OpenLitterMap remains significantly underdeveloped and self-funded.

Speaker Talk 2: Dr Kevin Lynch (NUI Galway, Ireland): I am a coastal geomorphologist and environmental scientist. I have most experience in aeolian sediment transport studies in beach-dune environments. Where possible I use my knowledge base to feed into different levels of coastal decision-making, which now focuses very much on climate change adaptation along our coasts. I am particularly interested in understanding and facilitating the empowerment of communities in shaping their own futures. Citizen science and open-source mapping are two areas I feel strongly enable communities for growing adaptive co-management situations.


		Protecting the natural environment with open mapping image

		Protecting the natural environment with open mapping image

		Protecting the natural environment with open mapping image
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