Is citizen science reliable?
Michal Torma recently defended his MSC thesis on the viability of collecting citzen-science data through the "Natur i Endring" citizen-science project.
The "Natur i Endring" app enables anyone and everyone to register the highest-growing trees and forests in Norway and have their data used in scientific research. In the first year, about 500 tree- and forest lines were collected using the app.
Michal Torma re-visited a selection of these records, and compared them with LiDAR (3D laser scanning) where available, to evaluate their validity. The results show a high accuracy of tree-species identification and tree measurements. The more complex tasks of identifying the tree- and forest lines were valid in around 60 % of the records, yielding valuable data points for future research.
The aim of citizen science projects like Natur i Ending goes beyond the collection of valid data: the participants learn something, feel ownership of the research project, and get free access to the collective results.