Civic Activism - Information Tools
The Civic Activism awards have been made and the eight groups will be using a variety of civic activism tools. We'll be looking at these in a series of blogs, next up it is Information Tools.
Information is always key to having a substantive and useful public debate. But today, it seems, we are drowning in data, with more and more information flowing through our inboxes and our social media than ever before.
In spite of this preponderance of information, keeping sight of solid facts and analysis is harder than ever.
The civic activism toolkit offers three different resources for those who want to ensure access to reliable information.
Citizen Reporting involves individual reporting on current affairs in real time, mostly though social media platforms. Social reporting events tend to be conferences and workshops, while citizen reporting tends to revolve around news breaking from a specific place. Anyone can participate.
Citizen Science is research conducted by non-professionals in order to increase public participation in scientific research and raise awareness. Members of the public can contribute in a variety of ways, for example by providing small bits of data about their environments.
One prominent example is the Great Sunflower Project, which started in 2008 in the US in response to studies showing that bee populations were in trouble. People across the US began collecting and sending in data on pollinators around them, and now the project possesses the largest single body of information about bee pollinators in North America.
Locally, Lecale Conservation and Ulster Wildlife have been conducting a citizen science campaign to monitor water quality in Strangford Lough.
The rise in open data and advances in digital technology have enabled members of the public to access facts more than ever before.
Simultaneously, there has been increased access to fact checking tools – websites that tend to focus on enabling members of the public to check facts for themselves. Groups behind these sites tend to be independent non-profit organisations, for example www.factcheck.org, an American site run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.