Using new data sources for policymaking

Technical report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission: “… synthesises the results of our work on using new data sources for policy-making. It reflects a recent shift from more general considerations in the area of Big Data to a more dedicated investigation of Citizen Science, and it summarizes the state of play. With this contribution, we start promoting Citizen Science as an integral component of public participation in policy in Europe.

The particular need to focus on the citizen dimension emerged due to (i) the increasing interest in the topic from policy Directorate-Generals (DGs) of the European Commission (EC); (ii) the considerable socio-economic impact policy making has on citizens’ life and society as a whole; and (iii) the clear potentiality of citizens’ contributions to increase the relevance of policy making and the effectiveness of policies when addressing societal challenges.

We explicitly concentrate on Citizen Science (or public participation in scientific research) as a way to engage people in practical work, and to develop a mutual understanding between the participants from civil society, research institutions and the public sector by working together on a topic that is of common interest.

Acknowledging this new priority, this report concentrates on the topic of Citizen Science and presents already ongoing collaborations and recent achievements. The presented work particularly addresses environment-related policies, Open Science and aspects of Better Regulation. We then introduce the six phases of the ‘cyclic value chain of Citizen Science’ as a concept to frame citizen engagement in science for policy. We use this structure in order to detail the benefits and challenges of existing approaches – building on the lessons that we learned so far from our own practical work and thanks to the knowledge exchange from third parties. After outlining additional related policy areas, we sketch the future work that is required in order to overcome the identified challenges, and translate them into actions for ourselves and our partners.

Next steps include the following:

 Develop a robust methodology for data collection, analysis and use of Citizen Science for EU policy;

 Provide a platform as an enabling framework for applying this methodology to different policy areas, including the provision of best practices;

 Offer guidelines for policy DGs in order to promote the use of Citizen Science for policy in Europe;

 Experiment and evaluate possibilities of overarching methodologies for citizen engagement in science and policy, and their case specifics; and

 Continue to advance interoperability and knowledge sharing between currently disconnected communities of practise. …(More)”.