Pristine Ocean Podcast

25. Citizen Science with Seán from OpenLitterMap

August 20, 2021 Peter Hall
Pristine Ocean Podcast
25. Citizen Science with Seán from OpenLitterMap
Show Notes

Pristine Ocean
Full transcript

I was always fascinated by maps. As a child, I loved opening an Atlas, finding a remote town or city, and imagining what life was like in that place. 

What did these streets and buildings look like? 

Exploring the world with my fingers was always a thrill. 

When Google Maps arrived on the scene in 2005, I was hooked. 

Google Maps is OK, I guess if you have an Internet connexion, you know what Google Maps is.

Having all those free maps in an easy to use interface. 

Technologically, it was a world wonder, a moon shot. It was like having your own personal pyramid in your pocket. 

But Google did not create maps for the fame, they were in it for the fortune. 

Data is the new oil. 

Google uses maps to collect data which they then own to earn money for their advertising business. 

We, the users provide the data, but Google owns it. 

A lot of people were imagining a universe where the data remained in the public domain. 

The open data movement crossed the technology of Google Maps with the principles of Wikipedia. The result, something called OpenStreetMaps. 

Today we’re talking to a geographer who’s taken the idea of OpenStreetMaps a step further he has created a tool called OpenLitterMaps. 

He wants people like you and me going around into the world and collecting images of litter using an app on a smartphone. 

When you do this, you are engaging in citizen science, also known as crowdsourcing. 

OpenLitterMaps is still a work in progress. There are still some essential aspects to be done, mainly making the data entry more fun and more rewarding. 

But for municipalities, for scientists, for anybody working for a clean environment, the opportunities are enormous. 

I was really looking forward to the interview with Sean and he displayed a level of passion and knowledge that really just knocked me over.