The University of Edinburgh, together with a consortium of thirteen partners from the UK, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Ireland are embarking on a €8.5 million (US$11 million) project, called Citizen Observatory Web (COBWEB), which aims to make it easier for citizens to collect environmental data for research, decision making and policy formation by leveraging on crowdsourcing technology.
COBWEB is a four year project which will be funded by the European Union’s FP 7 Programme that is designed to respond to Europe’s employment needs, competitiveness and quality of life.
It will leverage crowdsourcing techniques around the concept of “people as sensors”, particularly the use of mobile devices for data collection and geographic-referenced information.
This will be achieved through the integration with the European INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) Directive, compliant national SDIs (Spatial Data Infrastructures) and GEOSS (the Global Earth Organisation System of Systems).
In addition, the project will be built around UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), with test areas in Biosphere Reserves within the UK, Germany and Greece. This is to leverage the WNBR and the enthusiasm of local Biosphere Reserve communities for improved environmental decision making to help develop technologies that will eventually be more widely applicable.
“Biosphere reserves are beautiful areas with people living in them who want to keep them that way,” said Chris Higgins, project coordinator of COBWEB.
“By using smartphone technology to get citizens more involved in decision making, we are empowering people and improving information flow which is important in addressing a range of environmental issues.”
Meanwhile, Peter Burnhill, Director of EDINA , said: “This work aims to enable the citizen to use the Mobile Internet to benefit the Earth in a direct and obvious way, locally and therefore globally.
“The project allows EDINA and the University of Edinburgh to build on previous experience in EU projects in geo-spatial research and development. Undoubtedly Environment Systems’ will lead on a number of different work packages including the assessment, testing and validation of the data requirements, together with dissemination, exploitation and use. The company also has a significant role in stakeholder engagement, mobile data collection and the creation of a validation and quality system.”
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