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Session topics


  • Community involvement in environmental monitoring and management
  • New challenges for integrated water cycle management
  • Nature-based solutions for resilient cities and communities

The contribution of trained citizens to the monitoring and management of water at catchment scale is a powerful means to protect aquatic systems and their biodiversity and improve their potential to provide ecosystem goods and services. Citizen Observatories (COs) facilitate the collection and analysis of fundamental environmental data on larger spatial and temporal scales than otherwise possible and the sharing of traditional knowledge. Collaboration between scientists, public agencies, river trusts and citizens is therefore crucial to promote a better understanding of aquatic ecosystems. In particular, COs represent a cost-effective strategy to monitor urban and peri-urban systems threatened by habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss.

Inclusive projects also provide important indirect benefits by fostering a well-informed public debate and enhancing awareness on water scarcity and consumption and habitat degradation. Therefore, COs can contribute to the development of a 'water smart' economy and society and of participated plans for more liveable and resilient cities.

This session will focus on novel approaches in Citizen Observatories for aquatic systems and integrated catchment management. The session also welcomes contributions that illustrate key lessons learned and best practices and aims to be an opportunity to explore new collaborations.


  • Decision support in extreme weather/climate events
  • Risk awareness, public safety and community resilience
  • Protection of critical infrastructures and cultural heritage
  • Use of social networks and the media for improving disaster management

Crisis management systems need to evolve constantly to cope with increasingly frequent extreme weather events and more and more connected communities. The active participation of citizens in emergency management is a key strategy to build more comprehensive and cost-effective prevention and response systems. Crowdsourced information can contribute significantly to the detection of events, the planning and prioritization of actions, and the reduction of the costs of preparation, response and recovery. In addition, these activities help raising awareness about natural hazards, improve the taking of responsibility by individuals and thus contribute to the building of resilient communities.

Efficient crisis management also relies on strong coordination and optimal flow of information between all involved parties, including citizens, law enforcement personnel, civil protection units, first responders and decision-makers. Social networks and the media are powerful tools to improve the situation awareness of citizens and the delivery of crucial information to responders on site. This session will focus on new approaches and solutions for strengthening crisis communication, facilitating community engagement and self-organization, and for improving the coordination of professional responders.

The session welcomes contributions focusing on the use of smart technologies for the protection of critical infrastructures and cultural heritage, innovative training methods for professional rescuers and volunteers, and integrated and dual-use strategies (integrating adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management).


  • Community involvement in Land Use / Land Cover monitoring and ocean / marine monitoring
  • Citizen science and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

There is a growing need for novel approaches, technologies and strategies to make a more effective use of Earth Observation resources to monitor of the state of the Earth, increase our understanding of physical processes, improve our forecasting capabilities and support evidence-based policymaking in areas such as agriculture, spatial and urban planning, transportation, and environmental resources management.

The integration of Earth Observation data with different sources such as national databases of in-situ measurements, research-based data and citizens’ observations is essential to create accurate, reliable land monitoring products. Citizen science initiatives and Citizens Observatories are important tools to acquire high-resolution information on land and soil resources that can be used to cover observation gaps and validate remote-sensing data. Data quality, interoperability and accessibility are crucial to maximize the impact of information coming from citizens observatories.

This session will focus on smart and low-cost technologies to acquire, store and disseminate crowdsourced data; innovative citizen science approaches promoting best practices and synergies; initiatives to facilitate the access to databases by citizens and to increase opportunities for businesses. The session especially welcomes contributions focusing on the integration of citizen science into the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).


  • New approaches for data collection: micro-/nano-sensors, embedded systems and social sensing
  • Advanced water modelling: agent-based models, multiagent systems, machine learning techniques
  • Innovative platforms and e-services for COs, user-friendly modelling and visualisation tools
  • Data interoperability, integration and assimilation techniques
  • Managing big data

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) and advanced water modelling tools are drivers to include social innovation in catchment-scale water resources management. Thanks to technological solutions such as mobile apps and web portals, citizens can become active players in the collection, validation and dissemination of information. User-friendly modelling, advanced visualisation tools and virtual reality systems can enhance participation in Citizen Observatories, help raise awareness about environmental issues and natural hazards and promote transparent decision-making processes.

Innovative tools are needed in order to take full advantage of crowdsourced data, including strategies for data integration at international, European, national and regional level, and infrastructures to store, manage, share and process big data, such as the European Cloud Initiative. The participation of SMEs is also crucial to facilitate the development and uptake of innovative systems tailored to users' specific needs.

This session will focus on methods and technologies to support Citizen Observatories, including but not limited to innovative sensors and data collection solutions, novel modelling approaches and data assimilation and cross-validation methods. Contributions illustrating the use of open processing standards, open source software, shared technical standards and INSPIRE-compliant data-management are particularly welcome. The session will also cover key lessons learned and best practices developed during ongoing projects, and through academic research and practitioners’ experience.


  • Stakeholder motivation and impact of Citizen Observatories
  • Long-term sustainability of citizen science projects
  • Citizen Observatories, Open Data and Open Science
  • Intellectual property, ethical and legal aspects of the use of citizen-generated data

Citizen Observatories are increasingly used to support community-based environmental decision-making. Citizen involvement is also strongly recommended by European Directives (e.g. 2000/60, 2007/60/EC) which require the establishment of public participation mechanisms. Achieving and successfully maintaining citizen involvement and upholding transparent decision-making processes through Citizen Observatories requires careful consideration of the organizational, legal and societal aspects of the use of citizen-generated data.

ICTs, audio-visual production and social media can be used to awaken the interest of both young people and adults in citizen science. There is also a need for innovative educational programmes and materials to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of community involvement in ecosystem management. Moreover, the long-term sustainability of citizen science projects requires the development of business models supporting the maintenance of data infrastructures beyond the life of individual projects.

The development of Citizen Observatories also raises questions relating to data security and intellectual property. Open Data and Open Science initiatives (such as the European Open Science Cloud) make scientific knowledge more easily accessible to the general public and enable citizens to make better-informed decisions. However, the legal and ethical aspects of the use of crowdsourced data need to be carefully considered.

This session will focus on engagement strategies to enhance citizen participation in public governance, including leveraging incentives and addressing barriers for citizen involvement and data sharing. The session will also focus on the integration of citizen-science data into publically accessible databases and citizens’ right to data protection. Moreover, the session aims to be an opportunity to discuss best practices and experiences developed during ongoing projects and to explore new collaborations.

3rd International Conference
Citizen Observatories

for natural hazards

and Water Management
22-25 September 2020, Venice


Autorità di bacino distrettuale
delle Alpi Orientali

Cannaregio 4314, 30121, Venice (IT)
Tel: +39 041 714 444
Fax: +39 041 714 313
Secretariat & logistics
Scientific program committee