Earth Challenge 2020 has been launched, marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This project creates a global expansion of open source citizen science data and opportunities for civic engagement.
Earth Challenge has two goals. First, to aggregate existing citizen science from around the world and make it interoperable, creating a coordinated point of entry for the research and public policy community. Second, to give each user of the Earth Challenge 2020 app the opportunity to take a civic action specifically related to issues in their own country. The app is available in 11 languages. For Earth Day, we will focus on two research areas: air quality and plastic pollution. Over the coming months, issue areas will be added on insects, water quality, food security and local climate impacts.
The coronavirus pandemic reinforces the importance of science in understanding and protecting our health and environment. The app enables individuals to participate in authentic environmental research from the safety of their homes, while being part of the global citizen science community.
The Earth Challenge Initiative will:
- Fill existing data gaps to help scientists, policymakers, and society understand and ultimately counter damaging environmental trends;
- Engage and educate millions of people on the crucial role of science, show how their participation is contributing to a larger data set, and provide up-to-date civic engagement actions; and,
- The app also includes country-specific “what you can do” actions to help citizen scientists to take action that address problems like local air or plastic pollution.
Led by principle partners Earth Day Network, the Wilson Center and the U.S. Department of State’s Eco-Capitals Forum, Earth Challenge has been in development for over three years and has attracted a broad alliance of organisations and institutions globally.
Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, the organisation that coordinates Earth Day says, “Now, people everywhere can help build the most up-to-date scientific assessments needed globally, and at the same time take action locally. Everyone can become a citizen scientist and during the pandemic do so from the safety of their homes.”
Jane Harman, CEO and President of the Wilson Center, says, “As the only think tank participating in the Earth Challenge Initiative, the Wilson Center is pleased to partner with impressive organisations to accomplish what has never been done before: collecting and aggregating a billion points of data to give policymakers, researchers, and the public alike more accurate information about our health and environment. We are an ideas factory, and empowering people around the world to be part of new solutions is what we do best. And this is the essence of citizen science.”
Janice deGarmo, (Acting) Chief Data Officer of the U.S. Department of State says, “The Earth Challenge Initiative exemplifies how integral data is to effectively address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Not only will this effort engage citizens all over the world to collect data and make it actionable, but it will also introduce standardisation across our most fragile data asset — the environment. As the State Department’s acting Chief Data Officer, I am proud that the Department is at the forefront of using data to inform civic and greening diplomacy efforts around the globe.”
The EC2020 App can be downloaded at the Apple’s App Store and Google Play.