Citizen science and water-quality monitoring

One important area of research that citizen science can contribute to is that of water-quality monitoring.

SDG 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” has been identified as one of the critical goals to which citizen science can be applied. In many countries, monitoring water quality according to the SDG indicator 6.3.2 methodology, using standard, government-implemented programmes, based on in-situ measurements and remote-sensing data, cannot provide adequate temporal and spatial coverage for all types of water bodies. This is where citizen science projects can step in.

In 2020, the MICS project coordinator, together with IHE Delft, UNEP GEMS/Water and other partners, wrote a project proposal in response to the H2020 SwafS-27 call, whose main aim was to develop and provide the means for implementing a complete solution to measure progress in improving freshwater quality with SDG indicator 6.3.2, based on citizen science and involving low-income population groups, in any part of the world. An open invitation to join the 632 initiative was launched during the preparation phase to all citizen-science associations in Europe, the US and Australia and received enthusiastic responses from 40 institutions in Europe and around the globe.

Although the project proposal was unsuccessful, the information that we acquired is of huge importance. We asked the community, “Are you working on citizen science and the SDG 6.3.2?” and the community responded. Now, we want to give these data back to the community.

Below you will find information on all of the relevant projects and initiatives that responded to our call.

If you notice any inaccuracies in this list – information that needs updating, projects that need removing or adding – or if you have any suggestions on how to make improvements, then please do not hesitate to contact Luigi Ceccaroni at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

The MICS Team

LogoDescriptionAreas they operate in

Akvo works with governments and organisations in 70 countries to improve how they implement development projects and make decisions using data. Using a combination of tools, services, local expertise and sector knowledge, Akvo helps its partners improve the management of water, sanitation and agriculture, with a strong commitment to accelerating sustainable development goals.

Worldwde

Drinkable Rivers mobilises people in watersheds to care for their rivers. They engage with government officials, educate children and undertake research with citizens examining water quality. They have hubs across Europe where citizens can access the measurement toolkit and communication materials.

Europe

Water Rangers is helping more people deepen their understanding of water issues through affordable water testing. Water Rangers believe that crowdsourcing water quality data through citizen science is a way to help scientists fill in gaps to achieve sustainable water monitoring. 

Worldwide

Envaros aims to promote resilient communities through innovative research, capacity building and consultancy in environmental and sustainable development issues.

Zambia

Globe Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. 

Worldwide

European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) aims to empower citizens in Europe to advance knowledge and innovation, thus supporting sustainable development. ECSA wants to establish citizen science as a recognised, promoted and funded approach that fosters scientific literacy and science’s democratisation. Through this, ECSA wants to see an increase in the social relevance and sustainable impact of research, and a more substantial evidence base for policy processes.

Europe

ACTeon is a French consulting and research company specialised in environmental strategies and policies. The team’s main objective is to foster emerging solutions and innovations to ensure effective integration of environmental dimensions in decisions and behaviours. ACTeon advises a wide range of stakeholders (public institutions, companies, associations, NGOs). To provide adapted answers to specific contexts and stakeholders, the team mobilises skills in environmental sciences, economics, sociology, political sciences, environmental law and spatial planning.

Europe

Museo delle Scienze (MUSE) is the science museum of Trento. The museum runs and participates in several research and dissemination projects such as: Black Carbon, which enables citizens to measure black carbon levels; RACE-TN, which assesses the water quality of Trentino rivers; Mongolia Snow Leopard, which studies the abundance of snow leopards in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia; SEE Science, which aims to engage younger generations in science, technology and innovation through networking and pilot activities. 

Italy

CREAF is a public research centre dedicated to terrestrial ecology and territorial analysis, producing knowledge and methodologies for conservation, management, and adaptation to global change. CREAF has a broad and multidisciplinary research portfolio integrating fundamental research advances with contributions in environmental issues of significant socioeconomic impact. Citizen science is employed in projects such as Mosquito Alert, Nausfera, RitmeNatura. 

Europe

Ayam Sailing Europe aims to stimulate mobility through sailing.  It performs youth projects, education and social cohesion activities centred on protecting the marine environment. 

Europe

Comunità Ambiente provides technical and scientific assistance in developing and monitoring projects and produces studies in different areas related to biodiversity and ecosystem services (agriculture, fisheries, human health) for local, regional and national authorities and the European Commission.

Europe

Earthwatch, with main offices in Australia, Europe and the US, actively engages people from all walks of life in research, as citizen scientists, empowering each individual to be part of the solution by contributing to research that will help solve real-world issues. Citizen science projects fall across the following key areas: saving the reef and oceans; restoring iconic landscapes; pollution; and protecting unique wildlife. Earthwatch’s flagship citizen-science project for water-quality monitoring is FreshWater Watch (FWW).

Worldwide

INRAE is France’s new National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment. It is committed to finding solutions for related challenges using science, innovation, and public policies support. Its objective is to permanently transform how we grow food, produce food, interact with the environment, directly tackle issues of concern for society, and produce research results that help inform the solutions society needs.

Worldwide

The Smartfin Project is a community science initiative focused on collecting coastal water quality data and communicating critical ocean health issues. Data are collected by surfers and other watersports enthusiasts who use the cellular-enabled ocean sensor package integrated into high-performance fins developed by Scripps researchers.

Worldwide

Politecnico di Milano is a scientific-technological university that trains engineers, architects and industrial designers. The University contributes to international projects such as IDEA League, Alliance4Tech, UNITECH International Society and MEDes. The University’s third mission consists of fostering the territory of reference’s social, economic and cultural development. This mission works alongside the other two traditional ones: didactics and research. Politecnico di Milano’s actions supporting the third mission are structured according to the following intervention lines: innovation; social responsibility; culture; environmental sustainability.

Worldwide

Draxis Environmental develops real-life environmental ICT solutions and providing specialised environmental consulting services. DRAXIS combine and integrate remote sensing technologies, compound algorithms, GIS and other datasets to build multi-functional web-based platforms and mobile applications, decision-making tools, crowdsourcing platforms, workflow systems and other software solutions. DRAXIS work on projects including: aqua3S, an H2020 project that creates strategies and methods enabling water facilities to integrate solutions regarding water safety easily; agROBOfood, an EU funded project aiming to build a European ecosystem for the effective adoption of robotic technologies in the agri-food sector; technical support to the special secretariat for waters in overseeing the operation of the national monitoring water network in Greece.

Europe

VITO is an independent Flemish research organisation in cleantech and sustainable development, aiming to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.

Worldwide

Erie Open Systems  is dedicated to providing accurate and affordable environmental monitoring tools for the general public, including citizen scientists and young participants of formal or informal learning activities. Their goal is to build bridges between the DIY/maker communities and those of the academic laboratory by reaching from both ends: minimally implementing well-established laboratory technique for broader and interdisciplinary purposes; also developing and rigorously testing design ideas from open-source communities.

USA

EnviroDIY is a community for do-it-yourself environmental science and monitoring. EnviroDIY is part of WikiWatershed, a web toolkit designed to help citizens, conservation practitioners, municipal decision-makers, researchers, educators, and students advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater. 

Worldwide

SYKE is a multidisciplinary research and expert institute working to build a sustainable society. To achieve this, SYKE works with decision-makers, companies, local authorities and citizens both domestically and internationally. SYKE focuses on consumption and production, circular economy, built environment, urbanisation, sea, water, nature, and environmental information production.

Worldwide

Bernu Vides Skola (Children’s Environmental School) is a non-governmental organisation that works to incorporate environmental education into schools and provides opportunities for young people to carry out their ideas and gain work experience. To achieve these goals, it builds a school support network, provides in-service training for teachers and school leaders, prepares and publishes environmental education materials, and organises environmental camps for students. It is a participant in the GLOBE programme.

Latvia

Institute for environmental solutions (IES) is an international network of scientists, artists, engineers and practitioners who come together as ad hoc multidisciplinary teams to design and develop customised, innovative environmental solutions. IES employ modern technologies, reflective practice and multi-stakeholder involvement. IES works on projects across fields such as space, waste, water, citizen science, economy and cooperation networks.

Worldwide

The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy preserves and advances natural open space through science, education and stewardship. The Conservancy conducts ecological research through partnerships and citizen science to inform the Sonoran Desert’s long-term natural resource management, contribute to broader scientific knowledge, and inspire the desert’s stewardship.

USA (Arizona)

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an independent, international research institute with National Member Organizations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Through its research programs and initiatives, the institute conducts policy-oriented research into issues that are too large or complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. This includes pressing concerns that affect the future of all of humanity, such as energy security, population ageing, and sustainable development. 

Worldwide

The FabLab SUPSI proposes and supports activities and projects in order to achieve the following general objectives: experimenting innovative training models that combine design, programming, electronics and digital manufacturing technologies; support teaching in the field of architecture, construction and innovation in the field of computational design and digitised modelling; support the development of the continuous training offer for the Ticino area in the field of manufacturing and digitised modelling for architecture and design; to promote transversal areas, themes, techniques and technologies regarding prototyping, the programming and digital design for manufacturing using numerical control machines; support research on materials, technologies and design processes augmented by digital manufacturing in the fields of architecture, design and construction; promote the FabLab model according to the MIT guidelines, through processes and projects related to the use of open-source practices and networking with other national and international laboratories in order to encourage the exchange of techniques and knowledge.

Worldwide

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is the largest public institution in Spain dedicated to research. CSIC's work in water quality monitoring includes its involvement in the H2020 MONOCLE project and its collaboration with the spin-off institue CEAB-CSIC. CEAB-CSIC has been coordinating the Life project LimnoPirineus, related to water quality in mountain lakes.

Worldwide

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824711.

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