Explore your inner citizen scientist

  07 April 2014
Science Needs You! will show budding scientists aged 14 and over how to get involved in real research, without having to set foot in a lab.

The event is being organised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which is keen to use data gathered by citizen scientists in its work. It takes place between 5.30pm and 7pm on Saturday 12 April, as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival at Summerhall. Full details are available online.

Groups of local citizen scientists – as well as some professional ones – will be sharing their experiences of data gathering, demonstrating how easy it is to join in, and how rewarding it can be. SEPA's Head of Environmental Quality, Martin Marsden, will be explaining how you can join in the worldwide scientific revolution, and other SEPA staff will be there to explain how the information gathered is put to good use.

Paul Griffiths, a Principle Scientist for SEPA currently on secondment to the Scotland's Environment Web project team, said:

The great thing about citizen science is it means people who are interested can get involved, learn more about their environment and help us get really meaningful data. But they don't need specialist knowledge to do it, and in many cases they don't need equipment any more specialised than their smartphone.

By using high quality on-line interactive resources we can promote a better understanding of the environment, and help people understand why the Scottish environment is so important, and why it needs to be protected and improved."

Bristol University's Dave Kilbey will be running an interactive session to show how easy it is to use PlantTracker, AquaInvaders and Sealife Tracker, just some of the mobile apps developed by the 'Nature Locator' team, which allow members of the public to record and upload examples of species of interest to national and international databases.

The apps take advantage of the sophisticated technologies included as standard on smart-phones – such as hi-resolution cameras, geolocation and wireless connectivity – allowing accurate, detailed and highly relevant data to be captured, verified and logged.

David Kilbey said:

Nature Locator is about trying to break down barriers to participation. Documenting invasive non-native species could be considered rather a specialist area, but we've tried to make it as easy as possible for people to take part. The whole ethos is about engaging as many members of the public as we can who want to able to contribute something towards protecting their environment.

Scotland's Environment website hosts a range of mobile apps for you to download and get involved, including PlantTracker, AquaInvaders and Sealife Tracker. Download them and bring them with you to the event.



Notes to editors


  • Summerhall is the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh.

  • SEPA manages the Scotland's Environment Web project on behalf of a partnership of other key environmental organisations in Scotland.

  • The website provides a comprehensive insight into the condition of Scotland's environment by providing access to data and information held and managed by a wide range of organisations across Scotland.

  • SEPA has received funding support from the European Commission LIFE+ funding programme to support the delivery of a range of multi-agency collaborative initiatives that will provide a trusted gateway to data and information about the environment, and involve Scotland's Citizens in discussion, monitoring and action to protect and improve the environment.

  • The LIFE programme is the European Union's funding instrument for the environment, which contributes to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.

  • Further information about the Scotland's Environment Web LIFE funded project view the website.