The goal of citizen science is to have everyone’s participation. [Taking a hard look at citizen science’s demographics] could show us where the biases are, and give us a better idea on who is not engaging in these projects and what kind of impacts that could have on the data and decisions.
- Dr. Andrea Wiggins
Household surveys have long been a source of gathering demographic and population health data across the world. However, in recent years, household surveys are facing significant challenges including lack of funding, skepticism about their usefulness, and slow response rates in high-income countries.
Wiggins, who was recommended to speak on the panel by a peer, has been driving work in citizen science and data quality for years. She says citizen science is of interest to the United Nations because household surveys could be used to help validate and check the quality of citizen science data. With citizen science increasing in importance across the globe, the spotlight is on the fact that there needs to be a better understanding on who is participating and ensure the information is unbiased.
“Part of what we get from the household surveys is demographic information that is geographically specific. One of the things we know about citizen science is that it is centered on populations, and it is not demographically even - basically, it’s done by people who have privilege,” Wiggins said. “The goal of citizen science is to have everyone’s participation. [Taking a hard look at citizen science’s demographics] could show us where the biases are, and give us a better idea on who is not engaging in these projects and what kind of impacts that could have on the data and decisions.”
Through the invitation to speak at the United Nations, Wiggins has a chance to help lead a conversation on the relevancy of household surveys in the changing data landscape, and engage in the conversation to expand the impact of citizen science.
“Some of this is a reflection of socioeconomic dynamics and data collection. It should tell us where the blind spots are, and what we should be paying attention to as we try to use information for decisions and work to engage a broader population,” Wiggins said.
The meeting will be held on February 28 in New York City, New York.