Citizen Science is a public participation in scientific research. Volunteers have the possibility to join research process in many different ways, such as data collection, data analysis, development of technology or hypotheses, testing and dissemination of results. Through philosophy of openness, Citizen Science is connected and contributes to other Open Science activities, including Open Access, Open Data, Science 2.0, or Open Educational Resources. Benefits for participants include: gaining knowledge and skills, increased competence, learning scientific thinking,
Corporate Social Responsibility is a mechanism whereby a business ensures compliance with the ethical standards, norms and the spirit of the law. In many cases, CSR’s implementation includes actions that contribute to some social good, commonly through the involvement of the community interested in the particular goal or outcome. Often, motivation for such actions is reaching desired audience and possibly engage customers, therefore CSR activities are considered a part of firm’s marketing strategy. There are several derivative business concepts that are founded on this tactics, such as “creating shared value”, “social accounting”, “corporate social entrepreneurship”, etc.
One of the major issues with CSR activities is the analysis of their cost benefits. Due to limited control over the message and the medium, marketing effects of CSR actions are hard to assess,. Also, there is a relatively small number of social actions that companies might get involved with, creating a competition between businesses also on the CSR scene. These are often addressed with the spatial limits of the CSR actions, for example working on the immediate neighbourhood of firm’s headquarters.
Citizen Science projects are the perfect match for the CSR actions. The benefits include:
- relatively high status of science (true for majority of European countries)
- consistently growing number of participants all over the world (now, estimated at a few millions a year)
- easy to predict demographics of participants (Citizen Science projects of high educational value would be picked by teachers/schools; difficult game would attract mostly adults; data collection with smartphones requires participants to have smartphones first; etc.)
- many of Citizen Science projects have an important social outcome (due to the procedures and traditions of research assessment, they are unlikely to be funded from typical sources, such as national grant agencies; therefore, social outcome is not realized)
- very large number of possible areas of activities (astronomy, ecology, zoology, health, conservation, agronomy, climate research, linguistic, quantum physics, etc.)
- possibility to create a smooth transition from basic research, to prototyping, then to consumer-driven design, realizing the promises of open innovation idea
It should be also noted that there is a clear synergy between the concept of CSR-supported Citizen Science and several ideas embedded in the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Our mission is to build an infastructure for interactions between science, society and businesses consisting of three elements:
- Mare Apertum, the service for running open citizen science projects
- Compute Commons, the set of solutions for making computing on sensitive data possible
- CSR-funding mechanism that would allow businesses to make outward-facing CSR activities more connected to the core of companies’ communication strategy