Citizen observatories: Concept, opportunities and communication with citizens in the first EU experiences

Filipe Montargil, Vitor Santos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter discusses the emerging concept of Citizen Observatories (COs), explores the opportunities it represents for public authorities to go beyond incremental bureaucratic innovation and presents the first generation of European-funded experiences, held between 2012 and 2016. The concept of CO implies, according to the existing definitions, an open and shared information system dedicated to the collection of data on the environment and natural resources, using ICT, and the volunteer participation of individuals in data collection. The EU has adopted a more specific concept of CO in the projects funded, so that the resulting information complements existing earth observation systems (including the European Copernicus satellite programme). In the 2012–2016 period five CO projects have been funded by the EU, covering different areas: natural waters monitoring, odour monitoring, air quality monitoring, flood risk management and a platform for citizen science surveys. These COs allowed to develop and test the concept’s implementation, although the societal impact is still very limited, involving a reduced number of users. These projects have, however, established a very valuable set of resources, knowledge and expertise. This is an emerging field with interesting perspectives and possibilities. Although there is an economic rationale behind it (lowering the cost of in situ observation networks), it encloses the possibility of using ICT in the creation of a relation between public authorities and citizens that can produce a valuable return for citizens.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Administration and Information Technology
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Publication series

NamePublic Administration and Information Technology
ISSN (Print)2512-1812
ISSN (Electronic)2512-1839


  • European union
  • Flood risk
  • Flood risk management
  • Social networking site
  • Volunteer geographic information


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