Empowering Citizen Scientists Through Technology
Drexel University College of Engineering
Working alongside Public Workshop, PlusUs helped Drexel University College of Engineering develop an engaging way to empower regular citizens to record and make sense of green infrastructure sites in their communities.
As communities become more sensitive to the impact urban development has on our environment, we’re beginning to see cities explore green infrastructure solutions to better manage storm water runoff. Storm water runoff presents challenges because it doesn’t soak into the soil, and it carries debris, bacteria, and pollutants to unintended destinations.
However, this green infrastructure movement doesn’t have the adequate levels of data to demonstrate the value of these initiatives. What is the value of a tree to a city? What is the value of a storm drain? Would cities be better advocates for green infrastructure if they could better quantify the value it provides? And how might we do this in a cost-effective and scalable way?
CITIZEN SCIENTIST & LEARNING
In leveraging the abilities of students and active citizens, monitoring these projects is not only participatory and a shared effort, it is a learning experience for everyone involved- for the data collectors, the science community, and the cities where these sites reside. Citizen Scientist provides a progressive, alternative model for the 21st century classroom: one with deep-seated relevance for a community, and one that eliminates the need for walls and a traditional classroom.