Founder and developer of OpenLitterMap here. My research started in 2008 and it took me 13+ years and 74 grant applications to get my first round of funding which came from people voting with cryptocurrency. Here in Ireland, our research funding system is broken. It has become too obsessed with IP and licensing and has forgotten its open source roots.
If we want to begin to scratch the surface of what 100s of millions of data collectors is possible of achieving, we need to support the development of people building platforms. I choose litter and plastic pollution because of its low barrier to entry. It's easy to find and recognise which makes litter mapping an important catalyst for the development of citizen science. I have many more ideas too, but there is no funding for me to work on this full time. Society has asked me to do something else.
Inspired by the open source values at OpenStreetMap, I began working on OpenLitterMap in 2013 to fill a missing data gap. Very little is known about the ~900 tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every hour but this is ripe for disruption. Every university in the world has access to all of the OpenLitterMap code and data. We are currently working on the OpenLitterAI, we have Littercoin the first token rewarded for doing citizen science- and more!
Unfortunately my country does not yet support citizen science. There are no PhDs to apply for because the technology to generate the data does not exist. There is no funding to develop the technology. Can Germany support the development of citizen science in Ireland? You can also help from your Universities as every student, researcher, and university in the world has access to all of our code and data to improve our knowledge on the state of global pollution.
Germany is pioneering plastic pollution research at sea and in the arctic, but much less is understood about the litter in our cities before it begins its journey to the ocean. For example, zoom in on what we mapped outside the Bundesrat where politicals create environmental policy and science budgets: openlittermap.com/global
For many people, litter has become normal and invisible. Our maps can change this, but it is important that academics teach open source values otherwise the true potential of citizen science will become locked away by vested interests who would prefer that the reality of this story was not told.
OpenLitterMap exists to give everyone a chance of being a part of science (aka open science, citizen science). We are now 5000+ users growing 5+ per day and we need you to join us.
To close my many opinions about citizen science, I would like to propose a challenge. Do you think German students can collect more data than the Irish? Join us for the LitterWorldCup and let's find out.
#IREvsGER #IrelandvsGermany #LitterWorldCup