Quarterly Newsletter - August 2020

Hello MICSers!

Despite the lockdown and social restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic we, the MICS team, remain hard at work! A significant milestone was passed for the project in the form of the review for report period 1; this was well received by the reviewers with whom we had very positive discussions and feedback. During this period, the work package four case study leads have continued to connect remotely with project partners and citizens scientists, and with the recent easing of lockdowns across Europe ‘socially distanced’ co-design workshops have been held in both Romania and Hungary.

John Wheatland
The River Restoration Centre, UK

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MICS case study update
by John Wheatland, Albert Scrieciu, Bruna Gumiero, and Balázs Kozák

Thanks to covid-related restrictions relaxing across Europe, our activities across WP4 have begun to pick up again. Read more from our case study leads, here!

Surface water outfalls, UK – John Wheatland, RRC
In the UK, several additional citizen science projects have agreed to participate with the MICS project and act as case studies alongside Outfall Safari. Four of these fall under the Riverfly Partnership, a network of organisations that include angling clubs, water course managers, environmental authorities and charities, which work to protect and improve the water quality of rivers through monitoring key invertebrate (riverfly) species. The project has been running for over a decade, and while the different coordinator groups of the Riverfly Partnership follow the same monitoring activities, differences arise in the length of time they have been running, the way in which project coordinators engage with citizen scientists and the manner in which citizen scientist contribute to the running of the project. The RRC is looking forward to holding interviews and workshops in the coming months with the various UK case studies.

Carasuhat Wetlands, Romania - Albert Scrieciu, GeoEcoMar
On 22nd July we had our Co-design workshop, held in Mahmudia Town, at Hotel Mon Jardin, with support also from WWF Romania. We had around ten participants and together we managed to draft our citizen-science activities. We hope that within the next month we will start our first monitoring campaign! Until then we will stay in touch with our stakeholders to keep them updated on our time table.

Marzenego River, Italy - Bruna Gumiero, AAWA
We have held two online meetings. Although the first meeting was only attended by eight participants, almost all of the interested groups were represented, including the Regional Environmental Agency, a Drainage authority (who will manage the NBS), and a representative of an association that seeks to protect the springs upstream of Marzenego. We were informed that the river park in the last part of Marzenego has recently been established, and that there are hopes the MICS project can act as an intermediary to expand it along the Marzenego to Noale. The Environmental Agency representative stated that citizen science monitoring could allow for the collection of information on the most critical sites, which could then be further analysed to identify regions to be preserved.

In the second meeting, the consortium expressed an interest in monitoring the aquatic vegetation of existing wetlands with indications of coverage. One individual told us about her experience with Drinkable rivers and expressed interest in measuring Escherichia coli as well as nutrients, etc. In summary, it was decided to measure nutrients and turbidity with the FWW method, E. coli with 3M, use an Italian CSMONT app for aquatic vegetation and a specific APP for riparian vegetation developed by Bruna Gumiero and ISPRA (National Environmental Agency).

We plan to meet face to face at the beginning of August, to discuss measuring vegetation parameters (because the monitoring possibilities end towards the beginning of October). Further parameters are likely to be measured from early September, monthly. 

To increase citizen participation, we are preparing a poster to advertise the project; to be shared on the websites of the municipalities, within some of the citizens’ associations, and among local newspapers.

Creek Rákos, Budapest - Balázs Kozák, Geonardo
Our 3rd co-design workshop was held on the 7th of July. Through previous workshops we formulated an ecological creek restoration as a basis for our activities. Four citizen science activities - three of which were designed to answer specific questions - were identified by the co-design group and narrowed down by the experts during covid:

  1. How natural are the areas where we aim at revitalization/creek restoration? Answered through a determination of naturalness by citizen scientists along the riparian sections of the Creek, identified during the habitat mapping (by professional research scientists).
  2. How clean is the water according to Water Framework Directive? Answered with water quality monitoring by citizen scientists.
  3. Which are the 5 most typical specific species along this section of the Creek Rákos? Investigated via flora and fauna mapping by citizen scientists.
  4. Awareness raising. We also considered awareness raising activities in this workshop.

During the event we focused on the planning of these activities; with the understanding that some of them need further input from experts, such as water quality monitoring. A further meeting with the co-design group may be required, however, we hope to initiate these activities in August.

MICS platform update
by James Sprinks

Since the last newsletter, progress has continued apace in regards to WP3 with the development of the MICS platform prototype, where citizen science practitioners will be able to access the range of impact assessment tools and support the project will offer. A structure for both the front and back end of the system has now been put in place, built upon services and frameworks that are open-source and free, a key ethos of the MICS project.

Human-computer interaction and human factors are key facets of the platform design, and as such the prototype consists of several important user-interface visualisations and designs, aimed at making the user-journey of measuring impact as informative, intuitive and fun as possible! This is the start of a longer journey however, and over the next year the prototype will be reviewed and improved through an iterative process.

During this process, the corpus of knowledge that has been developed through WP2 will integrated into the platform, and the case-studies and practitioners of WP4 consulted as testers, ensuring the platform is designed and developed in a user-centric way.  

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant Agreement n. 824711. 


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