Environmental Protection and Agency: Motivations, Capacity, and Goals in Participatory Sensing

Paul Aoki , Allison Woodruff , Baladitya Yellapragada , Wesley Willett



In this paper we consider various genres of citizen science from the perspective of citizen participants. As a mode of scientific inquiry, citizen science has the potential to "scale up" scientific data collection efforts and increase lay engagement with science. However, current technological directions risk losing sight of the ways in which citizen science is actually practiced. As citizen science is increasingly used to describe a wide range of activities, we begin by presenting a framework of citizen science genres. We then present findings from four interlocking qualitative studies and technological interventions of community air quality monitoring efforts, examining the motivations and capacities of citizen participants and characterizing their alignment with different types of citizen science. Based on these studies, we suggest that data acquisition involves complex multi-dimensional tradeoffs, and the commonly held view that citizen science systems are a win-win for citizens and science may be overstated.

Keywords:  Citizen ScienceEnvironmental Sensing


Paul Aoki, Allison Woodruff, Baladitya Yellapragada, Wesley WillettEnvironmental Protection and Agency: Motivations, Capacity, and Goals in Participatory SensingIn Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17)ACM, New York, NY, USA  Page: 1-13.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025667