Mobile Citizen Science

Science and citizen-science mobile applications aid scientists and common citizens to efficiently collect field data. Citizen-science applications are a means for scientists to collect more data from locales and during times that may be accessible to many citizens but not to scientists. The applications also are an opportunity for citizens to learn about the science by being in engaged in the science.

A well design application is more than a convenient and automated data collection technique. It can package and organize the data for the citizens and scientists. An application can also automate visualization of the data and make the data comprehensible to citizens. A citizen-science application can inform and instruct citizens about the science.

Science and citizen-science applications have many forms. They can represent:

Science and citizen-science application can take advantage of common functionality on mobile devices:

and less common functionalities:

Michigan Tech's Mobile Environmental Citizen Science project began with a National Science Foundation grant, CI-TEAM Demo: Environmental CyberCitizens: Engaging Citizen Scientists in Global Environmental Change through Crowdsensing and Visualization. Computer Science, Psychology and Humanities students design, develop and evaluate the apps through a collaboration of classes from the three disciplines. The students work directly with scientists to determine the needs and requirements for the apps sponsored by the scientists. The students design the user interface and present the designs to the scientists for review. By the end of the collaboration, the implemented prototype apps are evaluated by testing with undergraduate, high school and middle school students.

Students have developed Android and web based apps. Currently, we are developing offline enable web apps. Offline enabled web apps take advantage of HTML5 proposed standards to cache the app on the device, access the device sensors for collecting data, and storing the data on the device. The data is to later upload to a web server. Offline enable web apps have the advantage that they are cross platform, working on many makes and models of devices. Offline enabled web apps also have the advantage that app upgrade and modifications are automatic and immediately on the users' devices. Also, implementation of the apps is simplified because only web coding is required instead of coding for each device type.

Some recent apps are:

Scientist Sponsorship

Scientists that are interested in development citizen-science app should contact me. We will discuss your app idea, and I will explain the process.

Undergraduate Students

Students interested in app development should take one of the collaborating classes. Computer Science undergraduate students interested app design and implementation and design can take CS4760. Graduate and undergraduate Computer Science, Human Factors, or STC students interested in app design and evaluation can take CS5760. Both graduate and undergraduate students have sequentially taken both courses. Their second year learning experiences are distinctly different because they work on new apps and assume new roles in the projects.

Graduate Research

Mobile app design, evaluation and development are a vast and timely research topic. Computer Science graduate students can study and research mobile offline framework development, implementation, or agile software development. Human Factor graduate students can study and research mobile usability, agile usability and teamwork. Computer Science and Human Factors graduate students interested in research and development of mobile apps for their dissertation or thesis should contact me. We can discuss your interests and research opportunities in more detail.