“For instance, in Kenya, University College London (UCL) scientists and their local partners are working with the Maasai to protect their environment against the climate crisis.
The researchers are co-developing a smartphone app that will help the community map the location of vital medicinal plant species and, as a result, better manage them. The app will allow the Maasai to upload the location of the plants, analyse the results and display them using icons like a thumbs up, an ant, and a red no entry sign next to invasive species, as well as pictures of the plants they want to protect….
Despite its obvious merits, citizen science still faces challenges. Researchers have a reputation for arriving in a community, exploiting it for data, and leaving it without giving any credit for its contribution….
In the end, citizen science is about shifting power from scientists to the public. A new £1.3m project called Engaging Environments led by the University of Reading, which is running in its own city as well as Birmingham and Newcastle, aims to do just that by training researchers to work with a wide range of communities to address their concerns about issues like pollution, climate change and air quality. This might be through getting sixth formers to monitor wildlife, or mosques encouraging their congregation to develop environmentally friendly practices such as avoiding single-use plastics during festivals.
This project is needed because of the social divide that exists between the public and many scientists. …
It doesn’t benefit scientists to isolate themselves from the public, either….”