Public Domain

Project of the Week #10: LandSense

This week’s Project of the Week is a bit different: rather than telling you about a project already up and running, today we’re watching one being born. Much like DITOs, many organisations are coming together to develop an observatory in which citizens can actively monitor how we use our land: LandSense.

Big thanks to Inian Moorthy, Franziska Albrecht and Dahlia Domian, who are involved in LandSense and wrote this post with me.

What does this project do?

LandSense is currently preparing several pilots in Germany, Austria, Spain, France and Serbia to get citizens involved in monitoring agriculture, biodiversity and urban green spaces such as city parks.

What do I have to do?

It depends on where you are! (If you are not in any of the following places, wait a while - something might be coming to you soon....)

Heidelberg, Germany: Look out for events involving GIS Science and OpenStreetMap. There’ll be community mapathons to monitor local changes in the city area. Such mapathons will also allow anyone to tune in remotely.

Vienna, Austria: Monitor green spaces such as parks: how often do you go to green spaces? How far do you have to travel to get there? How do you feel about your parks? Do you feel safe there? How do you think your park can be improved? Get involved in asking and answering these questions; this will help to improve the city’s ecosystem and urban planning for the future.

Toulouse, France: Monitor changes in urban and peri-urban areas. Are there new infrastructures being built? New commercial or shopping centres? Or is there a completely new residential area under development? Help to update recent maps and provide better classification of such changes.

Across Spain: Work with several organisations from BirdLife International to local conservation groups to monitor Spain’s forests and wildlife. Within this pilot, BirdLife’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) will be monitored from space and an alert system will be implemented that helps detect threats over time. You can check out Important Bird Areas (“IBAs”) to see if you’re near one here.

Vojvodina Province, northern Serbia: Farmers will record the health of their crops and two local schools will be involved in a case study recording agricultural developments and changes. A mobile app is being developed which you’ll be able to use to upload your crop details as well as to derive information on weather alerts. This will help to improve current farming practices and will provide means for precision farming.

Where can I find out more?

LandSense on Twitter
What Is LandSense?
LandSense News
LandSense on Facebook

What’s the Citizen Science Project of the Week?

The Citizen Science Project of the Week is a regular Monday feature at Doing It Together Science. What project would you like to see featured? Please let us know on the contact form, Facebook page or email us at Please put "Project of the Week" in the subject line and send us a link to the project, some information about it and why you'd like it featured. If you want us to, we'll credit you and tag you on Facebook!

More details

Have you noticed that some big science projects, like LandSense and DITOs, really enjoy finding lots of small local groups and putting their work all together? There’s a good reason for this.

Science projects, and conservation groups or even farmers, might monitor or protect a similar species. It's often very useful to add up all the various observations of different species or land changes that all these different groups are recording.

The reason is that these things are often all interconnected. There is a delightful video by George Monbiot about “the cascade effect”, in which an attempt to save one species – the wolf – changed an entire ecosystem. Similarly, all the different types of observations LandSense will put together will probably add up to a fascinating whole that tells a much richer story than each single component, and will tell us better how to protect our forests, agriculture, cities and more.

Therefore, LandSense is partnering not only with various universities and with DITOs's Consortium member the European Citizen Science Association, but also with SINERGISE, a leading SME in mainstreaming the delivery of satellite imagery for environmental monitoring, and Inosens, an initiative to connect agriculture with information technology.

LandSense partners just held their first annual meeting and tweeted about their diverse discussions: forests and agriculture, communications, and making a mobile app to monitor potential threats to birds.

Their aim is to scale up all their forestry, agricultural and urban green space work so that a LandSense Engagement platform for all of these can spread across Europe. For instance, Earth Observation can lead to the development of mobile apps that help monitor key biodiversity areas all over Europe and beyond. Also, with the successful implementation of the Vienna pilot on green spaces, they’ll be able to advise other cities on how to create similar surveys and changes. Vienna has some very detailed plans for its future, as they believe "cities mean changes".

Who knew that cities and science could be so interlinked? It turns out, there's a whole book on that. But that's another story.

As each of LandSense's pilots begin, we will announce them so that you can join in. Please let us know if you take part - we would love to hear about it!