In July the IMPETUS project was launched. With KCL as scientific and technical lead, it will fund and support citizen science initiatives across Europe.

In July the IMPETUS project was launched. With KCL as scientific and technical lead, it will fund and support citizen science initiatives across Europe. The project is funded by the European Commission and UKRI as the successor of the recently completed ACTION project. ACTION supported 16 citizen science pilots investigating pollution in different spaces in Europe, who collectively engaged over 1200 participants. ACTION supported all projects through trainings, webinars, workshops, and advice. All the insights gained in ACTION have been captured in the participatory science toolkit, which provides insight and guidance on how to conduct citizen science projects throughout their lifecycle, alongside a variety of useful tools and resources. The toolkit also holds insight for citizen scientists about volunteer motivation and engagement, data processing and quality,

Logo of Impetus

Over the next four years, IMPETUS will build on ACTIONs success and model to fund, support and give recognition to outstanding citizen science projects in Europe. IMPETUS' goals are to enable more diverse citizen science initiatives to access funding, bring citizen science closer to society and policy makers, acknowledge the role citizen science plays in tackling the greatest challenges of our times, and enable citizen science projects to contribute to Green Deal and UN Sustainable Development Goal commitments.

Dr Gefion Thuermer, Research Fellow in the Department of Informatics who is leading the work, said:

“We are excited to start on this new endeavour. I cannot wait to see what amazing citizen science projects we will be working with over the next four years, and all the great things we can achieve together for sustainability in Europe."

Practically, Impetus will fund and support 125 citizen science initiatives focused on different sustainability goals, as well as diversity and inclusion, and open science. Projects will be selected in three open calls, each of which will have one challenge defined by the IMPETUS consortium, and another selected by citizen scientists themselves. Selected projects will join an accelerator, which will provide an integrated programme of support, training, mentoring, and resources. The accelerator will facilitate peer learning, and enable projects to forge connections with a variety of stakeholders, including policy makers. In order to recognise outstanding citizen science initiatives, IMPETUS will launch the EU Prize for Citizen Science. It will award three prize categories for three years, for outstanding achievements, diversity, and innovative grassroots projects; and one of the winners will also be selected by citizen scientists themselves!

Prof Elena Simperl, PI of Impetus, said:

“Citizen science holds huge potential as an impact area for a lot of research we are doing in my team and in the Department more widely. We have the opportunity to design new methods and tools for crowdsourced data collection, curation, and analysis, which lead to environmental datasets that can easily compete in quality and costs with existing ones that are produced by more traditional science outlets or public authorities. A second timely area of research for us is data governance, with a particular focus on data justice and ethics – we want to ensure that the citizen-generated datasets are not biased towards certain areas or populations and that they do not create or amplify social and environmental inequalities.”

Through these activities, IMPETUS will shape policy across the EU, help more citizen science data to inform evidence-based policies, and identify future directions in citizen science policy itself. This work has already begun: IMPETUS will contribute to the ONS' Inclusive Data Taskforce, by focusing on data collection from and with marginalised groups. IMPETUS will also contribute to King’s research agenda by expanding our work on human-data interaction, data literacy, ethics and governance, and working with the new NMES Net Zero Centre.