Communication with citizens in the first EU citizen observatories experiences

Filipe Montargil, Vitor Santos

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper presents the emerging concept and reality of Citizen Observatories (COs). We offer a brief overview of its opportunities and its areas of application and discuss some central elements of the first generation of Citizen Observatories pilot projects' funded by the European Union, between 2012 and 2016, in what regards communication with citizens. 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 program). In the 2012 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. According to our analysis, we can identify different communication strategies with citizens, in these projects, ranging from all-inclusive strategies (using websites, Android and IOS apps, both to collect and disseminate information) to more focused communication strategies. Besides this, awareness is also a critical issue for COs, since they need to attract a relevant number of citizens in order to justify their existence and to thrive. Most projects make extensive use of social networking sites (SNS), including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Slideshare. Despite this use, however, it cannot yet be considered that COs reach a vast number of citizens. Rather, the number of citizens involved was very limited, in the first generation of pilot projects. But societal challenges may assume a more relevant role in the following stages, with the projects that will be developed between 2016 and 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 17th European Conference on Digital Government, ECDG 2017
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages8
VolumePart F129463
ISBN (Electronic)9781911218388
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event17th European Conference on Digital Government, ECDG 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12 Jun 201713 Jun 2017


Conference17th European Conference on Digital Government, ECDG 2017


  • Citizen observatories
  • Crowdsensing
  • Volunteered geographic information (VGI)


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