Overview of the project

Project title: Accessible Citizen Science for the Developing World
Project leader: Dr. Robert Simpson

The Zooniverse (http://www.zooniverse.org) has excelled at producing engaging, high-quality citizen science websites that produce peer-reviewed scientific research, especially in astronomy (http://www.zooniverse.org/publications). Our teams work predominantly in the USA and UK and the majority of our 860,000-strong volunteers are situated in the Western world, mostly Western Europe, North America and Australia. Our sites rely on volunteers interacting with rich visual data in the web browser, that often requires websites that are sometimes megabytes in size. Zooniverse websites rely on users participating through modern web browsers on broadband-speed, home internet connections.

We propose to create a low-bandwidth, multi-lingual citizen science project, to be selected in 2014 from the Zooniverse’s open proposal system, based on its suitability for the goals of the project and its scientific merit. A call for projects should be made in advance, in coordination with the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development. With the Zooniverse’s high standards for research and design, the aim is to build a project that stands alongside existing sites such as Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters and the Milky Way Project.

The infrastructure and expertise in the Zooniverse’s growing web development team will support a developer in building a new citizen science website aimed at the developing world and optimised for low-bandwidth use. It will also act as a focal point in advancing Zooniverse efforts to provide projects in multiple languages and create connections with astronomers in developing countries.

This project will act as a pathfinder for the Zooniverse, allowing the development of new tools for the delivery of responsive websites. The techniques created in the development of this project will then be evaluated and integrated into the Zooniverse platform. This will allow the Zooniverse to deliver a better experience for more users around the world in the future.