Applying Geocaching to Mobile Citizen Science through Science Caching

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Citizen science occurs when volunteers work with scientists to collect data at particular field locations. The benefit is greater data collection at lesser cost. Yet this type of citizen science has a variety of known problems. Of these, we focus on four specific problems that we believe can be mitigated by applying aspects from another thriving location-based activity: the geocaching treasure hunt as enabled by mobile devices. To flesh out this idea, we developed SCIENCE CACHING, a prototype mobile system and site preparation strategy that leverages concepts from geocaching. To ease problems in data collection, sites are treated as geocaches: volunteers find them opportunistically and use equipment and other materials pre-stored in caches. To ease problems in data validation, outlier data is flagged immediately on-site so that it can be immediately checked and corrected, and/or other volunteers are directed to that site for additional readings. To ease problems in training, volunteers visit training sites where they are both taught and tested against known measures. To ease problems in volunteer coordination, volunteers are automatically directed at particular sites of interest, and real-time communication enabled. We showed SCIENCE CACHING to citizen science experts, who confirmed the merit in applying geocaching and mobility to citizen science.
Location-dependent and sensitive