Online engagement

1.1 Citizens' concerns

Crowdsource citizens’ concerns through scientific (but fun!) SURVEYS

People involved:

+1000

Duration:

From 2 weeks to 1 month (online survey)

Imagine that you want to know what concerns a group of people the most with regard to pollution in their direct living area. Suppose that the people at stake are inhabitants of a city, a metropolis of millions of people.

How could you engage hundreds, possibly millions, of people to tell you what they care about the most?

Online Surveys

Surveys allow you to explore citizens’ aspirations with respect to possible focuses of research and helps you understand variations concerning demographics and differences between city areas. In the scenario proposed above, surveys can be used to crowdsource citizens’ concerns associated with a particular environmental issue that affects people’s lives.

Perhaps you are thinking about using traditional academic channels to disseminate your survey. For instance, using a database of volunteers who participated in previous research studies, sending the survey via mail, or posting a link to the online survey in the researcher’s Twitter account. All these options work just fine. However, let’s be honest, most surveys can be quite boring, with a lot of questions on a dull background!
Doing Citizen Science is also about making research tasks more attractive and fun. It is about making the public curious about research. Only few people would actually be curious about opening a link to an academic survey: the usual suspects. Are you looking for more inspiration on how you can do this differently?

Discover the tool in action!

Everything you always wanted to know about air pollution (but you were afraid to ask)

Project:

CitieS-Health Barcelona

Promoters:

Ideas for Change, ISGlobal

WHAT

It is an online survey to gather people’s concerns in relation to air pollution and health in Barcelona. The survey was aimed to reach people living in all the 10 districts of Barcelona city. The promotion of the survey was therefore key to meeting this target goal. For this reason, we implemented a communication campaign that includes messages on social media, a fun promotion video, and WhatsApp messages.

WHY

To identify people’s concerns in relation to air pollution and health in all of Barcelona's different districts.

HOW

Design the survey: We prepared a set of 8 questions that gathered both quantitative and qualitative data. Questions concerning perceptions on air pollution in their neighbourhood, the most impacted population groups and everyday situations in which air pollution affects health, overall health concerns in relation to pollution, and possible interest in what to investigate. 

You can see the survey we used in the attached template. Feel free to use it and adapt the questions to the environmental issue of your own project.

Promote it: You will need to get people interested so that they answer the survey. We designed an attractive communication campaign to promote our survey, which included a funny video that we sent through social media and WhatsApp messages. We also prepared a press release and sent it to local media in order to increase awareness about the activity. These efforts resulted in over 600 responses to the survey over a period of 4 weeks.

Analyse the results: To analyse the results we created clusters of concerns by city areas and we correlated these with actual levels of air pollution in the respective areas. The results show which the most pressing issues are for each city district and whether citizens’ perception of air pollution in their neighbourhood matches with actual levels of contamination. 

Publish the results: We did not forget to give back the survey’s results to the participants! We published them on the project's webpage and sent participants a report by email. (See here in Spanish and Catalan).

Get the toolbox!

We share with you some of the tools that can be useful to carry out this activity.

Survey used in the Barcelona Pilot

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