Public participation within environmental monitoring may contribute to increasing the knowledge on the state of the environment at the same time it promotes citizens' involvement in environmental protection. However, the use of voluntary collected data is limited due to a lack of confidence in data collection procedures. Additionally, data quality is often unknown and the data are usually dispersed and nonstructured. Information and communication technologies (ICT) may promote the use of voluntary collected data through the development of a collaborative system that incorporates tools and methodologies to facilitate data collection, access and validation. Furthermore, the use of ICT may promote public involvement within environmental monitoring, since it facilitates communication among all the stakeholders. This paper analyses the role of ICT in developing a system for environmental collaborative monitoring intending to promote the use of volunteer collected data. It starts by analysing the role of volunteers within environmental monitoring and continues analysing the potential of ICT to take advantage of the benefits of using data collected by citizens. A collaborative system that allows the public to express its knowledge on the state of the environment is described. Special emphasis is given to tools that explore non-traditional types of environmental data such as images, sounds and videos in association with spatial information. To illustrate the above mentioned concepts, a case study for beach quality monitoring developed within the Senses@Watch project, is described. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Volunteer environmental monitoring
- Collaborative systems
- Information and communication technologies
- Public participation
- Public participation geographic information systems