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CHALLENGE

Participatory Science, often referred to as Community and Citizen Science, is the involvement of the public in data collection and other scientific research activities. Participatory science data can provide useful information to both the public and environmental regulators alike; however, there do exist challenges with regard to consistent data application, processes, methods, and data quality. Overcoming such challenges will take the collective power of EPA, states, and tribes collaborating with community and citizen science groups.

BENEFITS

  • Improve data infrastructure and tools – Increase capacity to collect, share, analyze, and integrate participatory science data
  • Elevate data standards and collection methods – Improve upon existing standards in place for citizen scientists to collect data to move toward streamlined data and processes, and
  • Promote data accessibility and transparency – Collaborate with partners to share data effectively and efficiently.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Held a data management workshop in November 2021 – a facilitated discussion with participatory science data experts, users, and regulatory staff to define a common roadmap to improve data management approaches.
  • Developed 12 technical case studies and a set of discussion papers that seeded the agenda and discussion at the November 2021 data management workshop (coming soon to the EPA community and citizen science website).
  • Continued coordination to finalize the EPA vision and principles for participatory science and the assessment/action plan for data management – two recommendations from the EPA Inspector General’s 2018 audit. The assessment focuses on data management requirements for EPA use of participatory science data, and an implementation plan will identify projects and activities to improve sharing and use of data, data formats, standards, and data testing/validation.
  • In coordination with EELC tribal members, developed a Tribal Science White Paper detailing tribal case studies to showcase and better understand how tribes use participatory science in environmental protection and management. The white paper shares best practices for tribal participatory science and identifies ways that EPA, states, and other organizations can improve support for future tribal participatory science activities.
  • Conducted extensive outreach at various conferences, including:
    • Participatory science session at the EE2020 virtual webinar in October 2020
    • Update on ongoing participatory science activities at the ECOS Fall 2020 Meeting

UPCOMING MILESTONES

  • Develop the Roadmap and Theory of Change – workshop participants and other key stakeholders reviewed the Roadmap and Theory of Change developed as a workshop product.
  • EPA Strategic Plan Outline – EPA is working on drafting an outline for an internal Participatory Science Data Management Strategic Plan.

RESOURCES