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Making River Health Data from Citizen Science Projects More Engaging for the Public

Author(s): Tim Culmer

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Keywords: Modelling and visualisation tools; River health; Citizen science; Nutrient pollution; WaterBlit

Abstract: Citizen science projects are popular with local river trusts in the UK as a way of raising public awareness of issues like river health. The data gathered by volunteers as part of these projects can also provide useful data for the trusts to inform their conservation strategies and other work. Most river trusts rely on multi-purpose GIS tools for visualising the data they collect. However, it can be difficult to make the data accessible and engaging using these tools alone. To demonstrate the advantages that a dedicated visualisation tool can bring, Riskaware (a scientific software consultant based in Bristol, UK) has worked with their local rivers trust, the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), to help them develop such a tool for their WaterBlitz citizen science project. As part of the project, BART supplies their volunteers with freshwater sampling kits to collect data on the waterways in their catchment. Results from the WaterBlitz project collected over the last 5 years can be viewed in the visualisation tool which is available for everyone to access at https: //bristolavonriverstrust. org/waterblitz/ and can be used on any device with an internet browser. The tool has many novel features including the projection of data from the sampling sites onto a map of the watercourses to allow users to understand how sites are connected in terms of the overall water system. BART has received lots of great feedback about the tool. They believe it has excellent potential for it to be used more widely and enhanced to support other applications.


Year: 2021

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