by Dara M. Wald and Monica Elser
CPI has been awarded a seed grant by the Arizona State University Office of the Vice President for Entrepreneurship & Innovation under the Citizen Science & Citizen Engagement (CSCE) Grant Program. This is one of two grants awarded to CPI under this program (see also "Crowdsourcing the Next Great Citizen Science Project").
A lack of information can serve as a critical barrier to citizen engagement in many fields of interest, including water resource management. Incomplete knowledge leaves citizens, policy makers and researchers blinded to potential options, mechanisms influencing water use decisions regarding demand and supply, as well as to the array of solutions and opportunities available to address water use challenges through public policy.
To address this challenge, the "Citizen Science to Forecast the Future of a Desert City" project will develop a citizen science and citizen engagement (CSCE) initiative, entitled “MyFuturePhoenix,” as one potential solution to overcome this barrier. This project will target (initially) high school students to track, classify, analyze and share personal water use data and connect with an on-line simulation model to visualize the impact of water use decisions on the sustainability of Phoenix in the year 2050.
Engaging citizens in a program that would collect self-reported household water use will result in significant benefits for residents across Arizona, municipal water departments and ASU researchers. This project would be particularly beneficial for ongoing projects in the Decision Center for A Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University, established by the National Science Foundation in 2004. This data will allow ASU and DCDC researchers to refine existing water use models and identify new predictors of water use and environmental decision making across the PMA.
This project will also further the objective of the Center for Policy Informatics (CPI) - to create mechanisms that allow institutional and community expertise to be brought into governance discussions to provide effective support for social decision making and sustainable collective action, while ensuring the legitimacy of widespread public participation.