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Natusfera: A platform to provide free and easily accessible citizen-science services

Jaume Piera, Luigi Ceccaroni and Bernat Claramunt

(Submission #337)


Natusfera is a new platform to provide free and easily accessible citizen-science services, including the management of collaborative volunteered geographic observations of nature. Based on an existing successful platform (iNaturalist), it is planned to be one of the free platform offered by the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA). Its services are particularly oriented to initiatives generated with a bottom-up approach and coordinated by organizations with very limited resources. Natusfera services aim to overcome three kinds of potential barriers to develop these initiatives, especially in Europe. With respect to technological barriers, Natusfera services will be developed to overcome the need of ICT experts in the projects adopting them. With respect to linguistic barriers, Natusfera will be available in many languages, and tools for collaborative translation will be adopted or developed. With respect to interoperability barriers, Natusfera will have an outward organization of knowledge, and this will be based on standards that are already accepted or in use. Outwardly organized software solutions for citizen science, such as Natusfera and the databases and knowledge bases of citizen science projects being developed by ECSA, CSA, ACSA, Atlas of Living Australia,, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, support not only the work of a single organization and immediate collaborators, but also facilitate future interaction between diverse organizations by providing data to other participants in predictable and mutually agreed upon formats. Newer project databases can take Natusfera’s structures as model to build upon and expand. One benefit of systems with outward organization, and a more explicit specification of a shared conceptualization, is that they are readable by a computer and can enhance inter-organizational communication by focusing on a standard set of definitions based on a single, machine-readable format like RDF/XML OWL (a family of knowledge-representation languages for authoring ontologies in a Web environment) or on the JavaScript object notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD, a method of encoding Linked Data using JSON) allowing uniform integration of data elements. Thanks to the services for exchanging information, projects’ participants will help in identifying and validating the observations provided by new users. Data sharing is one of the key components in Natusfera, and the platform is being developed to ensure that data and metadata are interoperable and easy reusable within INSPIRE, GEOSS, Copernicus and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), whose Spanish node is a promoter of the new platform.


Topic Area:  [1.2] Nature and biodiversity
Abstract Type:  Oral Presentation

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