Archive for the ‘Computers & Technology’ Category

How Fast is Your Carrier? Crowdsourcing Mobile Network Quality with OpenSignal

By November 23rd, 2015 at 6:00 am | Comment

Global map of cell phone network coverage uploaded by OpenSignal users in 24 hours (Credit: OpenSignal)

Global map of cell phone network coverage uploaded by OpenSignal users in 24 hours (Credit: OpenSignal)

Interested in citizen science you can do on your phone? Check out these cool projects on SciStarter that let you contribute valuable data to research via cell phone apps!

by Nina Friedman

I was on a call with Teresa Murphy-Skorzova, Community Growth Manager for OpenSignal, an app that uses crowd-sourcing to aggregate cell phone signals and WiFi strength data throughout the world. Teresa began to explain how OpenSignal maps signal strength and how this process contrasts the way cell phone networks map it. “We aren’t following a pre-determined route like they are; we measure the amount of time a user has coverage, not the …” The connection becomes fuzzy. “Can you repeat that?” I ask.

Teresa wonders if my latency connection (a metric used to measure mobile data connection quality) is poor. She explains that while cell phone networks like Verizon and AT&T measure the percent of the population that usually has coverage, OpenSignal is “measuring the experience of the user,” mapping signals from the devices themselves in real time. Individuals record their connection as they go about their day. The app recognizes that people and their cell phone devices are, well… mobile. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Up for an Innovation Challenge?

By August 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am | Comment


Guest post by Carrie Freeman

In the new world of Big Data, we’ve learned how to acquire great data, but we’re still struggling with accessing it, understanding it, and putting it to work. That’s especially true with environmental data, where the urgency of problems facing people right now is driving efforts to turn raw digital input into information leading to concrete solutions.

One global group, the Eye on Earth Alliance, is addressing that problem directly by convening the Eye on Earth Summit 2015 and organizing the related Data Innovation Showcase. As a competition intended to spark fresh thinking about how to use data, the Showcase is calling for entries from citizen scientists—professionals, too—and from artists who have a brilliant idea for applying publicly accessible data to solving environmental challenges. But time is running out—entries must be submitted online by August 20, 2015. Winners get a free trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to participate in the summit (October 6–8), which will focus on informed decision-making for sustainable development. Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteers needed to test drive Cancer Research UK’s new analysis mechanic.

By August 8th, 2015 at 1:23 am | Comment 1

Source: Cancer Research UK

Source: Cancer Research UK

Calling volunteers! Cancer Research UK has a new project called The Citizen Science Trailblazer Project. The goal is to develop an app that improves how users analyze cancer pathology data. Volunteers to help test the prototype.

The Cancer Research UK’s Citizen Science team is committed to finding innovative ways to accelerate research by crowdsourcing. Already, the team has three web-based projects up and running. Their new project channels the success of their earliest app Cell Slider. Cell Slider asked participants to identify cancer cells from healthy cells. The team found the public was able to identify cancer cells with a promising degree of accuracy. Now they are developing a new analysis mechanic which will allow for even greater levels of accuracy.

Early beta testing by pathologists and volunteers showed promising levels of agreement. The final iteration of the new mechanic will be ready for testing by volunteers in early August. Testing involves looking for cancer cells in tissue slides rendered into images on an online platform. Each image is divided into 12 sections, and testers click on regions they suspect contains cancerous cells. The team needs at least 30 volunteers to help with this final round of testing.

Once finished, the analysis mechanic will be made available either as a web-based app or a mobile game. This is a unique opportunity for volunteers to not only learn about cancer but to be directly involved in project development. Register to volunteer by emailing your full name to

Check out their other games and apps: Reverse the Odds and Play to Cure: Genes in Space.


When disaster strikes, strike back with citizen science!

By June 28th, 2015 at 3:41 am | Comment

Photo: USGS

Photo: USGS

Natural disasters can be devastating and terrifying but in some cases, there are things we can do to take control.

Here are a selection of citizen science projects designed to inform rescue efforts and related research.

Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientists Like You Could Change How We Handle Iraq’s Humanitarian Crisis

By June 24th, 2015 at 9:26 am | Comment

A refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (Photo Credit: Flickr EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck/CC BY-ND 2.0)

A refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (Photo Credit: Flickr EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck/CC BY-ND 2.0)

By analyzing images taken during times of humanitarian crises, citizen scientists can help refine a tool for data analysis improve relief efforts.

A guest post by Megan Passey and Jeremy Othenio. Edited by Arvind Suresh

In August 2014, following the fall of Mosul in Iraq, the UN declared the situation a level 3 crisis, the most severe type of humanitarian emergency. Iraq was already home to an estimated 1 million internally displaced persons prior to the current crisis, as well as over 200,000 refugees from Syria.

Read the rest of this entry »