Citizen science for earth observation: applications in environmental monitoring and disaster response

Ville Kotovirta, Timo Toivanen, Renne Tergujeff, Tuomas Häme, Matthieu Molinier

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Citizen science is a promising way to increase temporal and spatial coverages of in-situ data, and to aid in data processing and analysis. In this paper, we present how citizen science can be used together with Earth observation, and demonstrate its value through three pilot projects focusing on forest biomass analysis, data management in emergencies and water quality monitoring. We also provide recommendations and ideas for follow-up activities. In the forest biomass analysis pilot, in the state of Durango (Mexico), local volunteers make in-situ forest inventory measurements with mobile devices. The collected data is combined with Landsat-8 imagery to derive forest biomass map of the area. The study area includes over 390 permanent sampling plots that will provide reference data for concept validation and verification. The emergency data management pilot focuses in the Philippines, in the areas affected by the typhoons Haiyan in November 2013 and Hagupit in December 2014. Data collected by emergency workers and citizens are combined with satellite data (Landsat-8, VHR if available) to intensify the disaster recovery activities and the coordination efforts. Simple processes for citizens, nongovernmental organisations and volunteers are developed to find and utilize up to date and freely available satellite imagery for coordination purposes and for building new not-for-profit services in disaster situations. In the water quality monitoring pilot, citizens around the Baltic Sea area contribute to the algae situation awareness by collecting algae observations using a mobile application. In-situ observations are compared with surface algal bloom products based on the satellite imagery, e.g. Aqua MODIS images with 500 meter resolution. As an outcome, the usability of the citizen observations together with satellite data in the algae monitoring will be evaluated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment (ISRSE 2015)
    EditorsG. Schreier, P.E. Skrovseth, H. Staudenrausch
    PublisherCopernicus Publications
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    Event36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, ISRSE-36 - Berlin, Germany
    Duration: 11 May 201515 May 2015
    Conference number: 36

    Publication series

    SeriesInternational Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences


    Conference36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, ISRSE-36
    Abbreviated titleISRSE-36


    • citizen science
    • earth observation
    • forest biomass
    • disaster mapping
    • water quality


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