Citizen science: Rain forest community is inspired by visits from Cardiff University researchers
31 October 2019
Enabling Citizen Science in rural environments with Internet of things (IoT) and mobile technologies
Citizen Science focuses on engaging and incentivising individuals to collect, categorise and sometimes analyse scientific data.
Cardiff University researcher, Kathryn Jones, “I went to Brazil excited for the opportunity to experiment with communication technology with a group of children from a community in the Atlantic Rainforest. When I was there I realised that part of the story was also being a visible role model for the children and showing them all, but especially the girls, that they can be scientists and technologists too.”
Researchers from Cardiff University’s Business School, School of Computer Science and the Data Innovation Research Institute, visited the village of Guapiruvu for two separate week long visits in 2019. The team worked with local people to enable them to monitor the village's wildlife, helping them to create a citizen science methodology built by the community for the community to:
- Create a communications infrastructure to support the Guapiruvu community's scientific and educational partnerships
- Establish social and political support for curricula innovations
- Support resilience framed by Citizen Science that was based on the principles of the project's Responsible Innovation Objectives
- Embrace the politics of climate change at a local level
A researcher from the Brazilian team, Mário Aquino Alves, said, "One of the most fascinating dimensions of this project is to realise how much our small interventions can change the perspective of the trajectory of young people from the Guapiruvu community. If once the perception was of a future of immigration elsewhere, now many want to become people who study and stay to conserve the environment of their town.”
The team developed an IoT communications platform based on LoRa enabled Raspberry Pis, which act as network hubs, and which can communicate directly with smartphone hosted applications. This platform is used to run a messaging app that allows two or more smartphones to exchange text over a LoRa network.
Unai Lopez, former Research Software Engineer at the Data Innovation Research Institute, said "It's a truly multidisciplinary project with huge potential to enable very relevant research and to bring benefit to the people of Guapiruvu"
Unai Lopez and Jeffrey Morgan, DIRI, along with Cardiff University colleagues, Kathryn Jones, Omer Rana and Tim Edwards and Brazilian colleague, Fabio Grigoletto collaborated to create and deploy this Citizen Science project in Guapiruvu, a village located in the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The publication can be seen here.