Two of COBWEB’s major aims are to;
- make citizen science data available for anybody to use,
- make the data reliable and trustworthy.
In order to achieve those aims, COBWEB has been working with local organisations and communities who lead or contribute to citizen science projects. By getting our ‘design professionals’ to talk to the intended ‘users’ of COBWEB, the development of COBWEB becomes a joint process whereby the final product(s) will be more appropriate and acceptable to the user. This combined effort is known as ‘co-design’.
As a result, over the summer, volunteers and communities have been leading citizen science activities and events that collect environmental data from around the Dyfi Biosphere. These projects have allowed the COBWEB team to see first-hand how citizen science data are collected and therefore, how COBWEB should be developed to improve and support this process. The data collected have also been used to test the ability of COBWEB to manage, process and validate citizen science data making them available to be used by others such as local governments and researchers.
However, the benefit of these co-design projects is not limited to the COBWEB project. As a direct result of the funding provided by COBWEB in support of these projects;
- hundreds of citizens have been encouraged to participate in a citizen science project for the first time,
- people are given an opportunity to feel part of the community and have a sense of place and belonging,
- participants often feel a sense of self-importance; they are recognised as valuable contributors to a larger goal or scientific effort,
- citizens are able to see that they can engage in science without having advanced degrees, without special tools, and outside of a laboratory,
- the data that they have gathered supports local topics and issues relevant to them.