Call for Papers: SciDataCon sessions on citizen science and spatial data for the SDGs

This is a call for papers for two sessions at SciDataCon (Scientific Data Conference), which will take place 5-8 November in Gaborone, Botswana, as part of the ICSU-RDA International Data Week. The deadline for submissions is April 30. Please submit at:    Please see the descriptions below.

Citizen Science Data – from Collection to Curation to Management 

The CODATA-WDS task group on citizen science data is calling for papers, and particularly encourages submissions by those involved in citizen science in Africa!  The goal of this session is to discuss the ecosystem of data-generating citizen science and crowdsourcing (“CS”) projects so as to characterize the potential and challenges of these developments to impact science as a whole, and data science in particular. Varying standards for collecting and documenting CS data can cause potentially valuable sources of information to be overlooked for scientific analysis. CS data has the potential to contribute to an improved understanding of people and the environment, however, challenges still need to be addressed in this data revolution, mostly because of wrong perceptions of data users regarding its appropriate evaluation and handling.

Properly maintained and evaluated CS projects already provide consistently reliable data for common use and scientific studies in many fields, although there is still some resistance to their use. Communicating to scientists who have difficulties in understanding alternative QA/QC methods is a major challenge that needs to be addressed. Improved management and resourcing of CS initiatives will assist in handling large data, simplifying access, intentionally gathering data to answer specific questions, and gaining value from raw data. Good data management practices can also effectively communicate data quality.

The session will explore issues surrounding common methods and approaches for ensuring and evaluating data quality, including validating various streams of citizen science data; mechanisms for cleaning and curating the data; and, systems in place for the long-term management and dissemination of those data. Important topics of discussion also include how projects in different disciplines, geographies, and spatial or temporal scales handle data practices, and concepts such as fitness for use.  We welcome general submissions describing the activities of CS programs and projects in Africa and around the world, as well as papers by academics or scientists exploring data-related issues in CS.

Spatial Data for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 17 associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the far larger number of indicators to monitor each SDG have created a tremendous demand for high spatial and temporal resolution data. This is in line with the United Nations General Assembly Report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (A/68/970 12 August 2014), which states that “In order to monitor the implementation of the SDGs, it will be important to improve the availability of and access to data and statistics disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts to support the monitoring of the implementation of the SDGs”. 

National statistical offices (NSOs), census bureaus, and space agencies have been working diligently to identify the data needs and to demonstrate the potential for traditional statistical data, in combination with newer remote sensing, crowd sourced, mobile, and other “big data”, to track progress. As a continent, Africa has the potential to leapfrog other regions by applying novel data development methods and data streams to solve its development challenges.

This session invites papers that illustrate the potential for spatial data to assist with SDG monitoring and to identify people groups or geographic areas that are in under-served (as part of the Leave No One Behind agenda). Presentations describing new data development strategies and worked examples of SDG indicator monitoring platforms incorporating spatial data are welcome, together with broader examples of the application of spatial data to development challenges. Examples of data or services that are developed in collaboration with end-users, as well as approaches to open data, and presentations by researchers and practitioners from Africa, are especially encouraged.

This panel is co-sponsored by the ICSU World Data System, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, and CIESIN at Columbia University.