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Citizen Science Hack Day Challenges

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The Citizen Cyberscience Summit 2014 Hack Day Challenges - all contributions welcome!


  • SciStarter Dashboard Challenge

    Help us design a dashboard for Citizen Science. The diverse ecosystem of citizen science projects on the Web requires an equally robust set of unique logins for each site. Because of this, citizen scientists participating in multiple projects have no way to manage identity across sites, track contributions, or set goals.

    It’s high time we focus on the experience of the volunteers who are driving citizen science forward and we need your help.

    During this challenge, we will explore ways to improve the experience for participants who want to move between different projects running on different platforms. Help SciStarter and friends design the first-of-its-kind citizen science dashboard to help participants find, get involved in, and track contributions to projects across multiple platforms.

    This challenge is being run by Darlene CavalierJonathan Brier, and Lily Bui from SciStarter, and Lucas Blair from Little Bird Games



  • UNOSAT Disaster Response Challenge

    Help us come up with ideas for disaster response crowdsourcing applications. At UNITAR/UNOSAT, we are developing Geotag-X—a platform for crowdsourcing the analysis and geotagging of media from disasters.


During a humanitarian crisis, remote sensing imagery techniques are indispensable where difficult ground conditions prevail. However pictures and other media from the field are also essential to complete and validate the analysis from satellite imagery if they can be converted to data that is categorized and georeferenced. We’d like your help with two challenges.


Challenge #1 - We would like your help in coming up with ideas for applications that can be hosted on the platform.


There is a lot of information stored in a photo however to recognise important and relevant data in a photo requires special skills and knowledge. UNITAR-UNOSAT will provide you with a set of photos and the aim of this challenge is to help us come up with new ideas for analysing these photos by answering these questions:

    1. How can we really push the crowd to perform in-depth analyses of media coming out of a disaster?
    2. What sort of information can we get out of photos that would help the disaster management and response effort?
    3. What sort of expertise do we need to teach the crowd to perform these analyses?
    4. How can we implement this in a crowdsourcing application?
    5. How can we leverage the features of PyBossa (http://pybossa.com) and CrowdCrafting ( http://crowdcrafting.org) for this kind of application?


Challenge #2 - We’d like to have your help with geo-tagging.


The information from photo analysis would be even more useful if we could geo-tag it to a specific location. We don’t necessarily need the exact location: just knowing the region, city, or area is extremely helpful. But even this less accurate kind of geo-tagging requires a lot of work searching for place names, and matching the photo with satellite imagery.


We’d like your help in finding ways to facilitate this work, especially if you have web development/design skills.

    1. Can you develop an application in PyBossa/CrowdCrafting that does this?
    2. Can we automatically match text in the caption or webpage to a location in google earth?
    3. Can we link locations to google earth to help people search satellite imagery?
    4. Is it possible to geo-tag to an area instead of a point?
    5. We need your ideas and skills to help us make the geo-tagging process easier!



  • Flusurvey Challenge

    Help us improve Flusurvey. The Flusurvey is an online flu surveillance system, in which anyone in the UK can take part. Participants are asked to report if they have any symptoms or if they are healthy each week during the flu season. The results are displayed on the project’s website.


What do you want to know about flu? Help us to come up with an idea for the background questionnaire for next year’s Flusurvey.


We’d also like your help in improving the our online activities —outreach, sign-up, and reporting are all areas in which we’re looking for help and new ideas. We’ll put the best ideas up on our website and include them in next year’s survey.  



  • NeoCodex Open Law Challenge

    Help us make the law truly public. NeoCodex is building a database of law and legal documents that will be free and open to contributions and usage by practitioners and laymen alike. We need your help in getting the data onto the web, refining it, and visualising it in ways that are meaningful to users.


Challenge #1: Crowdsourcing the law.


The Open Law Index, which is run in collaboration with the Open Knowledge Foundation, only covers a selection of international courts, but the plan is to expand its coverage to include all local, national and international courts and tribunals. This is, however, a vast field, with many local variations in data and structure depending on country and region. Help us brainstorm crowdsourcing methods for data acquisition and refinement which can work at an international/transnational level.


Challenge #2: Social Media and the law.


Help us come up with ideas for visualising the impact of the law via social media and geo-hacking. The geographical and social impact of legal policies and decisions are often hard to visualise if the only source of information is the legal corpus itself. Help us to create new methods for visualising this impact via social graphs and geolocation, so that visitors to the database can easily find the law that is relevant to them.


There is much scope for research in social networks and justice, in trying to find out correlations between the networks someone is a member of and the likelihood of, say, being convicted, etc; big data generated by social media activity could also be used as a predictor for criminality and/or reoffend. Although we are not working on this at the moment, it’s quite a fascinating topic of research.



  • The Gather Challenge

    Build a Mobile Citizen Science App using Gather. The challenge is to create an app which is fun and “sticky” inspiring some crowd of enthusiasts to use it whenever the opportunity arises. The best ones can even be launched on Google Play and be live campaigns!


Gather is a platform which lets any project design its own mobile app tool, with no programming required. Your customized app then enables anyone to simply and easily contribute structured data reports to a database that can then be shared, published and visualized. No programming is required, but the setup does require some effort – kind of like creating a blog or wordpress page.


Gather is flexible, it can be used to swiftly create an Android app that allows anyone to report results in a structured and efficient way. But with a little creativity Gather-based apps can also be fun to use and inspire contributions. The challenge therefore is to create an app which not only gets good data, but also inspires some crowd of enthusiasts to use it whenever the opportunity arises. We look forward to seeing what you can do with the platform.


Challenge #1: Human secrets: feelings and fantasies.

Quantified self devices are proliferating, but steps and sleep is just one side of the story. Why not create a Gather app that monitors and maps something about peoples internal life? What do they think about on the loo? How often and where do they fantasize and daydream? what is the content of their dreams and fantasies?


Challenge #2: Nature at home.

Everybody has insects and other life in their homes, but what species of ants, flies, and other creepy crawlies are out there sharing our homes as their habitats? Gather can be set up to let curious citizen scientists log these creatures and collect data about their numbers, locations, and behavior.


Challenge #3: Your own citizen science project or idea.

Do you have a project where you would love to distribute your own dedicated app that can be used by all participants? Instructions: email us at andrei.kovacs@siine.com to be sent a login and password to use the Gather system. You will then be sent the application and some instructions on how to start creating your own app for your citizen science campaign.


Remember, Gather is not yet iPhone compatible, so sorry but you need to be an Android user to work with the system at the moment. In your email please write “gather challenge” in the header, and include: 1. Your Name 2. Your organization 3. Your skype contact





In the Great Nature Project, members of the National Geographic Society and the general public from around the world contribute photos and other information to a central database. We are looking for projects that can take advantage of this unique global project to advance important scientific or conservation goals.


In 2013, on the occasion of our 125th anniversary, the National Geographic Society launched the Great Nature Project. The goal of the Great Nature Project is to engage our members and the general public in education, conservation, and scientific activities focused on biodiversity.


The inaugural event for the Great Nature Project was a global celebration of biodiversity that we promoted as a global snapshot of the diversity of life around the world. In this event, conducted during a 10-day period in September 2013, we invited the public to submit photographs of plants, animals, and other organisms to the Great Nature Project through a variety of social media and online citizen science platforms. Our invitation encouraged people to share the biodiversity from their part of the world with the rest of the world. We created an additional incentive by organizing an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest online photo album of animals.


During the snapshot and the weeks leading up to it, people from all around the world contributed more than 200,000 photos, including more than 100,000 animal photos to set the world record. The focus of this first global snapshot was engagement and awareness. Following on its success, we are now making plans to incorporate research and conservation goals into future snapshots. With financial support from the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), we are reaching out to the global scientific and conservation community to identify opportunities to integrate citizen science and conservation into the Great Nature Project.


We expect to select between two and five projects to incorporate into the Great Nature Project’s 2014 global snapshot.


In this “Hack Day Challenge”, we are looking for help identifying and designing citizen science projects that can be conducted as part of the Great Nature Project’s annual global snapshot of biodiversity. Each project will provide participants with instructions about what to photograph and may request that they submit additional information as well. The scientific goal of the project must be compelling enough to motivate large numbers of people to participate, and the instructions must be simple enough for members of the general public with no special expertise to follow. In selecting projects, we will consider their value for the advancement of science or conservation, how motivating they will be to our audience, and the extent to which they will benefit from the large numbers and wide distribution of participants that the Great Nature Project offers.





At the CRI, we are developing a learning through research platform where citizen scientists can learn about synthetic biology by participating in crowdsourcing projects. Synthetic biology is an emerging interdisciplinary scientific discipline, which applies engineering principles to biological systems by using the genetic blueprints from biology to design and build new useful biological devices. By opening up synthetic biology to citizen scientist, we will be able to harness the collective abilities of the crowd to move the research in new and exciting directions, by having the citizens direct every stage of the research process.


Challenge: To come up with interesting and novel synthetic biology research ideas!

If you’d like to help us out, come over to our table at the hack day after the pitch session. We’ll be giving a crash course in synthetic biology. After that, it’s up to you to brainstorm some cool ideas. We’ll put the best ideas on our platform, so you can sign up and turn your idea into reality. And there will also be some surprises on the day for the best ideas. To find out more about us, please visit us at http://synbio4all.org You can also find us on twitter at #SynBio4all




Help us brainstorm new ideas about how we can combine citizen science data with social media, geographic information, open data and linked data What kind of knowledge about the relationship between volunteers and their environment can we get by combining these data sources?


The growth in availability of data from social media, citizen science and other sources in recent years make it possible to understand new things about who is participating, what they are gaining from the participation and how it is possible to support volunteers better. We are aware that other people in the area of citizen science are also looking at analysis of data from multiple sources, and the summit is an opportunity to share methods, work together and learn from each other.


The aim of the task is to identify and use a host of geospatial analytical methods to explore a range of questions. For example, we will look at Environmental Volunteering and wellbeing as well as the evidence for cultural ecosystem services from citizen science data. For more information, please contact Gianfranco Gliozzo ( g.gliozzo at ucl.ac.uk )




At the Loss of the Night Network, and the UCM-GUAIX Light pollution group, we want to do science with the night-time images taken from the International Space Station. But they are lost in the ISS archive. We need geotagged images to use as a tool against light pollution and energy waste. We’d like your help with two challenges.


Challenge #1: Automated classification.

 We need a automated classification of the day and night images based on the time the images were taken. Also a visual classification to distinguish the quality of the images and which are from stars, cities or other strange things.


Challenge #2: Crowdsourcing interfaces for image georeferencing

We need to georeference more than 10,000 images so we need people to do it and a good interface. In the first stage, people need to make a first guess of the position of the center of the picture. To do that we can use the Google gallery and the Earth at Night 2012. But these images don’t have a very good resolution. So this will be useful mostly for the wide angle pictures. To georeference the high resolution images we can use the Google maps pictures or the Open street maps.


Then, we need a high-quality georeference, so the citizens will identify control points in common in the image and in the map. Here we need to capture the physical and image coordinates of 10 control points. Find us on twitter at @pmisson and @skyglowberlin. Our hashtag is #NightISS


          Our Web: http://sciencehackday.pbworks.com/w/page/75595268/NightISS



Emotion Mapping and Textiles is a project to measure the impact of textiles on our emotions. Our hypothesis is that tactile experience has an impact on emotional state (intensify or calm) and that emotional response to textile can therefore be measured. We also think that memories may evoke emotions and create different responses to textiles. In this challenge, we’d like to create methods and tools for gathering data and testing results, which could then be used for new creations.


We’d like you to help us with your thoughts and ideas. We’re hoping you can come up with new ideas of how to explore emotions and body reactions, inspired by personal experiences. With this project we can open up boundaries of science and design and create something new.


What we’ll do:

    • scan a surface structure of fabric + visualize it on screen
    • collect data with a Pulse Sensor of a test person that is touching the fabric
    • use a camera/web cam to project real-time shots of facial expression of test person. Ideally, we’d like to work with a group of people on having this information displayed on screen in one programme. (Processing?). One idea would be to have the 3D scan of the fabric on screen in colours matching different emotional states while the test person is touching it.


A second challenge would be to 3D-print the structure to create a mould that can be used to shape flat fabrics into the structure that is wanted. In the group it could be analysed which surface structure evokes which emotional response with the test person and on which body parts is it experienced most intensely.


Fabric could be shaped and a garment could be created with various surface structures that have either a calming effect or a stimulating effect. The moulding would allow the use of light, woven fabrics, instead of knitted fabrics. The realisation of the shaping of fabric will be a project that follows the Arduino+Pulse Sensor research, but simple shaping could probably be realised.


At the challenge we will present how the Pulse Sensor can be connected to a breadboard with leds that blink in your heart rate. It will be even more exciting to make the Pulse Sensor portable and connect it to an XBee wifi shield or an Arduino Wifi+SD Shield and collect data while we are moving.



  • Remix it with RedWire

    Be the first to try a radically new online game platform, RedWire, and have a lot of fun in the process!


It’s all about remixing existing games to do new things. Game programming is so fragile that most new games get written from scratch, again and again. That’s why we’ve created Redwire, a new game engine that let’s you pull games apart into atoms and stitch them back together in novel ways.


The game engine is completely open source, as are the games written on it. It’s a fantastic way to make new citizen science games quickly. In this challenge, you can create new games from scratch, or hack existing ones to do whatever your heart desires. The more games on the platform, the more material there will the next time someone comes there!


Don’t you want your game to be remixed too?  You can find out more about Redwire at http://redwire.io. Find us on Twitter at @redwireio.






As part of our education outreach programme, the Lightyear Foundation has been helping schools in Ghana build solar panel arrays. For this challenge, we’d like your help in building an application that would enable solar panel users to calculate/record how much energy they are creating each day and to log that information to share with other solar panel users.


Many of our users are “off the grid”, so we’d particularly welcome ideas for mobile apps using pre smartphone technology.  

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