The Pits and Peaks of Citizen Science: Effective Ways to Include Community Participation in Research Design

Today there are millions of volunteers engaged in citizen science projects around the world in a wide variety of different fields. The different types of citizen science projects vary depending on what the researcher wants to gain from its inclusion.

Many scientists are primarily interested in the scientific outputs of projects, and including citizens can be seen as a way to increase the capacity of the research team and to gather data from a wider variety of places. These projects can be used to gather large samples of data with the help of the general public.

Some projects encourage citizens to collect, categorise, transcribe or analyse data sets. There are also some projects that take a highly participatory approach by co-creating the projects design with citizen groups.

Citizen science is becoming increasingly popular in the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) field. There are various different projects that aim to either build community resilience to disaster events or to help communities respond or recover when an event happens. Natural hazard data gathered by citizen scientists can help scientists and emergency managers add to their response and recovery planning processes.

Workshop Scope:

  • Community engagement – citizen science can be used as an effective way to connect with communities and engage them in disaster discussions
  • Disaster awareness – citizen science has the opportunity to play a key role in increasing situational awareness post disaster. Many projects already aim to do this and have been tested in some of the world’s most significant events such as Hurricane Harvey in the USA.
  • Social media - citizen science is heavily ingrained in the world of social media. Many projects are based solely online and share via numerous social media platforms.

Main Objectives:

  • Highlight some of the ways citizen science is already contributing to disaster risk management both internationally, and in Aotearoa NZ
  • Show how citizen science can add value to disaster science and policy
  • Provide a range of advice on effective ways to design future projects

Workshop Facilitators


Lisa McLaren

Joint Centre for Disaster Research, New Zealand

sara harrison

Sara Harrison

Joint Centre for Disaster Research, New Zealand