Monitoring of land use change by citizens: The FotoQuest experience

Laso Bayas, J.C. ORCID:, See, L. ORCID:, Sturn, T., Karner, M., Fraisl, D. ORCID:, Moorthy, I., Subash, A., Georgieva, I. ORCID:, et al. (2020). Monitoring of land use change by citizens: The FotoQuest experience. DOI:10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7870. In: European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2020, 4-8 May 2020, Vienna, Austria.

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Almost 6 years ago, the now Center for Earth Observation and Citizen Science (EOCS) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) pioneered a crowdsourcing mobile app that allowed citizens to report land use and land cover at specific locations across Austria. The app is called FotoQuest Austria (and FotoQuest Go Europe when extended outside of Austria) and uses the GPS capabilities of mobile phones to allow citizens to visit locations near to them and then provide information on various land-related characteristics. A subset of the locations in FotoQuest Austria matched those used in the three-yearly Land Use and Coverage Area frame Survey (LUCAS) from Eurostat. The interface was developed to mimic part of the same protocol that LUCAS surveyors use when visiting locations across Europe, but in this case allowing any citizen to record land use and land cover characteristics observed at these locations. Over a period of 4 years, the FotoQuest project continued to improve: In the 2015 FotoQuest Austria version, 76 citizens collected data at over 600 LUCAS locations, although only 300 were used for comparison, mostly due to quality reasons (Laso Bayas et al. 2016). In the 2018 FotoQuest Go Europe campaign, 140 users from 18 different countries visited 1600 locations, with almost 1400 being currently used for analysis. Apart from the increased number of countries and locations, the user interface, experience and interaction with the app was continuously enhanced. Although LUCAS happened only twice in this period (2015 and 2018), FotoQuest had 3 official campaigns, which allowed us to introduce improvements in each campaign, but it also enabled citizens to continue providing land use change information in between campaigns. In 2015, the agreement between the main land cover classes in LUCAS and FotoQuest Austria was 69% whereas in the 2018 FotoQuest Go Europe campaign, it was over 90%. Currently, data from all campaigns are being compiled and will be freely available through the Geo-Wiki open platform ( The current presentation will describe the development of the FotoQuest project, as an example of a citizen science project that provides open data, including engagement strategies, improvements to the user interface and experience, and the lessons learnt from the uptake and the match of the crowdsourced data against the official LUCAS results. We hope the lessons we have learned during the project can help other citizen science projects share their data more openly and increase citizen participation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 08:15
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2024 05:00

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