Citizens’ Observatories (Finished)

The analysis of environmental changes necessitates relevant parameters that have to be continuously captured. In most cases, this is done by dedicated sensors, but also visual information (images and videos) is becoming increasingly relevant. However, in many cases it is very difficult to capture visual information on environmental phenomena over a longer period. The COSA project (Citizens' Obseravatory Smartphone App), a joint activity of the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Basel, aims at exploring and exploiting new sources of information for environmental monitoring applications. COSA follows an innovative approach to encourage the participation of citizens for the effortless creation of visual content by means of smartphones as unobtrusive and ubiquitous sensing devices combined, if possible, with other local sources of information available on a smartphone, such as GPS sensors. These data can be uploaded, via the COSA app, to the database of the Citizens' Observatory from where they can be accessed and analyzed by scientists. The motivation for the citizens to contribute as data providers can be increased, if relevant results are published in a timely manner via the Citizens' Observatory. Hence, the smartphone app not only allows citizens to contribute in an almost playful way, it also helps raising the awareness on environmental processes and changes in the general public. The first version of COSA is tailored to the monitoring of soil erosion and landslides. However, the app has been built in a generic way to easily address also other environmental phenomena and applications in future deployments. A first version of the COSA app (Android) and the database back-end has been implemented and successfully tested during a field trip of students in the BSc programme in Geosciences at Val Piora. This website will inform about the progress of the project and will provide links to the download site as soon as the COSA app will become publicly available.

Start / End Dates

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2021


- Department of Environmental Sciences, UNIBAS (C. Alewell)

- Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, UNIBAS (V. Roth, T. Vetter)


Research Topics