IGARSS2015 Invited Session on CS for EO


The EducEO project organized a workshop to enable more efficient discussion of Citizen Science for Earth Observation. The workshop was held at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) in July 2015, as an invited session on Citizen Science for Earth Observation. The objective of the session was to better understand how the emergence of millions of passionate citizen scientists could be capitalized to make the most of Earth Observation products. The session included 9 presentations from different application fields. Presentation recordings are available on IGARSS2015 website, for IEEE members.

Primary Author



Part I : http://www.igarss2015.org/Papers/PublicSessionIndex3.asp?Sessionid=1019
Giles Foody University of Nottingham, School of Geography Citizen Science in support of remote sensing research – 40 min tutorial/overview session
Pierre-Philippe Mathieu European Space Agency Enabling the transition towards Earth Observation science 2.0
Kira Sullivan-Wiley Boston University – Dpt. of Earth and Environment


Understanding the spatial resolution of risk management: scientific and community-generated hazard maps
Alan Grainger University of Leeds, School of Geography From Citizen Science to Citizen Observatories
Part II : http://www.igarss2015.org/Papers/PublicSessionIndex3.asp?Sessionid=1020
Linda See The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Using crowdsourcing and serious gaming to gather land cover and land use data
Fabio Del Frate University of Rome Tor Vergata A Citizen Science Approach For The Classification Of VHR Images In Urban Areas
Matthieu Molinier VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Participative forest in-situ measurements for biomass mapping in satellite images over Durango state, Mexico
Arun Pratihast Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University Developing an integrated forest monitoring system by combining Landsat time series and community-based observations
Timo Pyhälahti Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) Advances in combining optical citizen observations on water quality with satellite observations as a part environmental monitoring system

Summary of presentations and discussions

Gamification was included in several contributions as an efficient mean to engage citizen scientists. See, Fritz et al. used gamification for forest cover mapping, land cover / land use mapping and cropland mapping. Individual classifications were combined through majority voting, and each participant could challenge a decision, which triggered a verification by an expert. The system builds upon the GeoWiki platform, and provides competitions through playful incentives. Over a 25-week period, 3 314 players were gathered, totaling 4 648 659 image patches classified. Carbone, Del Frate et al. also used gamification for very high resolution image classification with neural networks.

In Pyhälahti et al., high user engagement was achieved without gamification. Indeed, water quality monitoring is of great concern for Finns during summer holidays, often spent near water bodies. Pratihast, Herold et al. integrated community-based forest observations with Landsat time series for monitoring deforestation and forest degradation. Measurements obtained by local populations matched the timing of deforestation better than satellite-based analysis. The results were reversed for deforestation, due to the fluid definition of forest by the local populations. It was found that user engagement was increased when more feedback was given on the utilization of measurements and outcome of the project. Local populations were encouraged to share ground plots information on a Facebook page.

The invited session generated many discussions with the audience and between presenters, during and after the session. Participants gave positive feedback about our initiative to organize this session, since Citizen Science for Earth Observation is a recent and growing field that does not yet have good visibility in major remote sensing conferences, nor a dedicated workshop or conference. The ESA Earth Observation Open Science 2.0 workshop in October 2015 (http://www.eoscience20.org) highlighted Citizen Science as one of the major themes.