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Formal and informal environmental sensing data and integration potential: Perceptions of citizens and experts

Published on
November 30, 2017

A paper of Qijun Jiang, Arnold Bregt and Lammert Kooistra: Formal and informal environmental sensing data and integration potential: Perceptions of citizens and experts, has been published in Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 619–620, 1 April 2018, Pages 1133–1142.

doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.329

Abstract
Environmental sensing data provide crucial information for environment-related decision-making. Formal data are provided by official environmental institutes. Beyond those, however, there is a growing body of so-called informal sensing data, which are contributed by citizens using low-cost sensors. How good are these informal data, and how might they be applied, next to formal environmental sensing data? Could both types of sensing data be gainfully integrated? This paper presents the results of an online survey investigating perceptions within citizen science communities, environmental institutes and their networks of formal and informal environmental sensing data. The results show that citizens and experts had different views of formal and informal environmental sensing data, particularly on measurement frequency and the data information provision power. However, there was agreement, too, for example, on the accuracy of formal environmental sensing data. Furthermore, both agreed that the integration of formal and informal environmental sensing data offered potential for improvements on several aspects, particularly spatial coverage, data quantity and measurement frequency. Interestingly, the accuracy of informal environmental sensing data was largely unknown to both experts and citizens. This suggests the need for further investigation of informal environmental sensing data and the potential for its effective integration with formal environmental sensing data, if hurdles like standardisation can be overcome.

Highlights

  • Citizens' and experts' perceptions of formal and informal environmental sensing data and integration potential are compared.
  • The accuracy of informal environmental sensing data is largely unknown among citizens and experts.
  • Integration of formal and informal environmental sensing data could improve data quality.
  • Informal environmental sensing data are expected to complement formal data, but are still far from meeting this potential.