Making citizens the eye of policy makers: SCENT

SCENT is a European Union research project funded under the Horizon 2020 program. Its objective is to engage citizens in environmental monitoring and enable them to become the eyes of the policy makers. In doing so citizens will have the chance to support the monitoring of land-cover use and changes by taking advantage of their mobile devices and additional sensors provided on purpose.

It is not a secret that other solutions allowing to monitor such events already exist. Satellites and remote sensing strategies can be very effective for this purpose but they are expensive and often not dynamic. With this in mind, SCENT aims at demonstrating the huge potential of citizen observation and monitoring of the environment through user-friendly tools and technologies. We call it the Scent Toolbox.

U-Hopper is one of the 10 partner organizations belonging to 6 different countries that is contributing to this project and to the development of the Toolbox. The Toolbox includes a crowd-sourcing platform, gaming applications, an authoring tool, an intelligence engine and numerical models allowing citizens, policy makers and other users to freely contribute to the aims of the project.

Two large scale pilots have been identified for testing the solutions: the urban case of the Kifisos river in Attica, Greece and the rural case of the Danube Delta in Romania. Various campaigns have already been completed during 2018 and new ones have already been planned for the 2019. The objective of these campaigns is evaluating the ability of the toolbox in assessing flood risks and flooding patterns.

A total of 261 volunteers already became citizen scientists for a day and collected valuable environmental information concerning river parameters, soil moisture, air temperature, and land use/land cover. More than 10,000 pieces of valuable environmental data were collected by the volunteers during the pilot campaigns.

We are looking forward to the next pilot campaigns. We will have the chance to collect more data and stress-test the new solutions that have been developed during the last months.