Team Sarjom, you are one of the winning teams of the WeObserve Open Data Challenge, please introduce yourself!
ST: Our team goes by the name – Sarjom. Sarjom is the name given to the tree “Shorea Robusta” in the “ho” indigenous language. The tree represents the guiding philosophy of our work because it is known to be very collaborative in nature. We are an open-source technology design and research lab based out of Seattle, USA. We will be setting up collaborations with institutions worldwide to accelerate civic engagement in citizen science.
Our vision is to support greener, cleaner, and sustainable ecosystems on earth by building open source tools and technologies with the help of students, researchers, and not-for-profit communities spread across the world. We participated in WeObserve Data Challenge with the help of our founding members – Turam Purty, Anindya Pandey, Kiranmayi KL Chandra, Vignesh Misal, and Ashish Anand.
You participated in the theme ‘Engaging young people on open data and climate: Education’. Could you give us some information about your winning idea?
ST: Our team is building an online platform called, CitSci Earth, which can be accessed at www.citsci.earth. Currently, in development, this platform will enable researchers and organizations to host citizen science projects and publish a sample of their datasets and findings to the citizen science community. Students, youth, and citizen scientists can then explore samples of datasets on our platform from a diverse set of projects and conduct their own hyperlocal analysis. When an analysis is published on our platform, the contributing organizations will be provided with attributions and also notified about new insights and knowledge generated by the community.
For the WeObserve Data Challenge, our team presented an open-source tool built with Python, Flask and MongoDB called the “CitSci Manager”. CitSci Manager is an open-source tool that helps citizen science researchers and volunteers save valuable time in exploring open datasets spread across a variety of data formats. Our platform and tools are geared towards making citizen science data engaging and accessible for youth and help create an online community for learning and collaboration.
The datasets used to develop CitSci Manager are primarily the soil and plant data from the GROW Observatory provided by the WeObserve team and the external weather datasets obtained from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, all the WeObserve datasets were analyzed together and CitSci Manager is a generic tool that can be applied and customized to a wide variety of datasets spread across different formats in citizen science projects.
Do you have a message for those concerned about climate change and who would like to get involved to citizen science?
As we recover from the unprecedented covid-19 crisis, we must keep in mind that our struggle to save humanity from climate change is far from over. At a time when we face an unprecedented rise in carbon emissions and a catastrophic loss of global biodiversity, we must get together, collaborate and innovate. Our work will bring together youth, students, researchers, organizations, policy makers, and citizen scientists and help collect data about our environment from each and every neighborhood in the world. We need to take concrete action as a community to face the grave climate emergency declared worldwide in November 2019 by the European Union.
Our message to the whole world is that the era of citizen science dawns upon us. We must proactively reach out to our communities and ask what can we do to help our local climate and health of the environment. We can make a start by creating and/or joining citizen science communities and help spread awareness about issues of our local environment. CitSci Earth is one such initiative towards that end and we would love to collaborate with you and help start your local initiative in your city. The team can be reached out at email@example.com
CitSci Earth is in beta development and is also supported by University of Washington-Comotion administered National Science Foundation (NSF)-iCorps Customer Discovery Grant. The open source platform is scheduled to be launched in January 2021.