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Learn about what the CROPS team has been up to in its mission to upscale citizen science to the transnational level.

CROPS at ECSA: Building transnational communities to support the upscaling of citizen science

3rd - 6th April 2024

The CROPS consortium attended the 5th Annual European Citizen Science conference held in Vienna, Austria during April 2024. The theory of the conference was change - since we are in a time of rapid change on multiple levels. Change can be seen as positive by one group and negative by another. As a result, different perspectives on any given change can draw completely different conclusions.

Perhaps more pertinent to the aims and objectives of the CROPS project, this change can be seen as an opportunity, focussing on adapting citizen science activities towards the 5 EU missions (cancer: improve the lives of more than 3 million people; make 250 regions and communities climate resilient; restore our oceans and waters; achieve 100 climate-neutral and smart cities; and create 100 living labs and lighthouses towards healthy soils) and their goals, through upscaling actions to the transnational level.

To help understand the citizen science community’s views and concerns regarding such an endeavour, CROPS held a workshop on creating transnational communities focussed on each of the 5 EU missions, to discuss firstly how current and future citizen science actions can contribute to the missions, and secondly how citizen science can be upscaled to the transnational level. 

The outcome of this process was the creation of 5 main themes that the communities need to consider and address:

  1. Citizen science project management: Discussions focussed on the need to manage expectations regarding project outcomes, activating a critical mass of participation to expand, producing guidelines for project development, and providing training, mutual learning and knowledge transfer mechanisms.
  2. Learning from what exists: There was a recognition that the transnational communities need to identify existing tools, technologies and communities, provide official recognition for projects that share best-practice, make knowledge and existing resources accessible, identify current challenges that exist, and come to a consensus of approaches suitable for different contexts.
  3. Community tools and resources: Several functionalities and tools were identified that the transnational communities should include such as research infrastructure, forums to share best-practice, a place to organise events, multilingual, and adaptability to different types of citizen scientist.
  4. Scalability and context: On a more conceptual level, issues were discussed regarding the definition of scalability itself, the meaning of transnational (EU or global), tensions between be generalisable but still relevant at a local level, and achieving broad objectives whilst acknowledging local expertise and values.
  5. Data sharing and processes: The importance of sharing data and adhering to agreed standards should be a focus of the transnational communities. This could include the creation of semantic models, data and interoperability standards, FAIR data practices and considering impact assessment.

The findings of this workshop and the outcomes mentioned will be used to inform the CROPS transnational communities, with participants given the opportunity to be founding members. Follow CROPS channels for more information these communities, which will be launched in October 2024.