Choosing and engaging with citizen-generated data: A guide
The past decades have seen the rise of many citizen-generated data (CGD) projects. A plethora of concepts and initiatives use CGD to achieve many goals, ranging from citizen science, citizen sensing, and environmental monitoring to participatory mapping, community-based monitoring, and community policing. In these initiatives, citizens may play very different roles - from taking on the role of mere sensors, to giving them agency to shape what data gets collected. Initiatives may differ in respect to the media and technologies used to collect data, the ways stakeholders are engaged with partners from government or business, and in terms of how activities are governed to align interests between these parties.
This guide will help you understand if CGD is suitable for your proposed project as well as what type of data is appropriate for your needs. It is designed for governments, international organizations, and others interested in developing, engaging with and supporting CGD initiatives. It presents a list of distinction criteria between CGD methods, highlights the benefits and pitfalls of CGD, and provides a basis for strategic engagement with CGD. The guide draws from an analytical framework presented in the report Advancing sustainability together? Citizen-generated data and the Sustainable Development Goals. The analytical framework revolves around three aspects: workflows to generate data; participation; and data’s fitness for purpose. The report illustrates these nuances through several case studies and a discussion of how CGD can support implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.
Each section of the guide is accompanied by CGD examples. The guide summarizes experiences from extensive research, and draws inspiration from existing toolkits to recommend civic technologies, as well as the many existing toolkits for participatory mapping, citizen sensing, citizen science and other data-related activities. You can find a list of the tools that inspired us at the end.
Read the CDG report and summary report: Advancing sustainability together? Citizen-generated data and the Sustainable Development Goals.
This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.