Crowdcrafting: putting citizens in control of citizen science

Sept. 17, 2013

Press Release: 17th September 2013, Geneva \ For Immediate Release

Speaking at the Open Knowledge Conference, the world’s leading event on open data, Co-director of the Open Knowledge Foundation, Rufus Pollock, announced today that the open-source platform Crowdcrafting has grown to accommodate over 120 projects, making it the world’s most diverse open-source platform for online citizen science and crowdsourced data analysis.

Crowdcrafting ( is a collaboration between the Citizen Cyberscience Centre [1] and the Open Knowledge Foundation [2], launched six months ago. Since its launch, a number of important projects have been built and developed using the tool.

The project ForestWatchers (, for example, enables citizen-based monitoring of the deforestation in developing regions. Built on Crowdcrafting’s open source technology, it has received the support of the Open Society Foundations for a second phase in which local knowledge from citizens in the field can be integrated with the maps produced by online participants. Other projects that run on Crowdcrafting include "Rural GeoLocator" (, a Swiss-led application studying the potential of new mosquito trapping technologies for malaria control; “Does Antimatter fall up or down?” (, an application for measuring particle tracks in data taken by the AEGIS project; and the "Shell JIV transcription" project which aims to transcribe the locations of oil spills in the Niger Delta from documents provided by Shell.

Recognizing the broad power and potential of this platform, the Shuttleworth Foundation this month awarded one of its prestigious fellowships to the lead developer of Crowdcrafting, Daniel Lombraña González, who said:

“I want to give people the tools and knowledge to create their own online scientific projects, whether they are professional scientists or amateurs”

Crowdcrafting integrates three key crowdsourcing technologies: EpiCollect, which allows the collection of sensory information through mobile phones; CernVM, which uses the volunteer's computer processing power to undertake the tasks; and the Open Knowledge Foundation’s flagship CKAN database for open data, which ensures the data produced is open.

John Ellis, keynote speaker at Open Knowledge Conference, and world-renowned theoretical physicist at CERN and King’s College London commented:

“I was amazed how students at the CERN Webfest in August could turn CERN data on antimatter into a new citizen science project within just a weekend. This shows the power of the Crowdcrafting platform.”

Also speaking at Open Knowledge Conference, Francesco Pisano, director of research for the UN Institute for Training and Research, one of the founding partners of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre, remarked:

“Crowdcrafting is more than just a tool for basic science. Our UNOSAT programme is adapting the technology to efficiently combine the strength of volunteer computing with the work the UN and many NGOs have to do in generating information and assessments after natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.”

Denis Hochstrasser, vice-rector for research at the University of Geneva, which is hosting the Open Knowledge Conference satellite event on Open and Citizen Science, added:

“I’m proud that the Crowdcrafting platform is based here at University of Geneva. And I’m personally convinced that this grass-roots approach to citizen science will have a large impact on biomedical research, a core competence of our University. This is an area where increasingly, communities of patients are pro-actively collecting and analyzing their own medical data.”


For further comment:


[1] The Citizen Cyberscience Centre (CCC) is a partnership established in 2009 to promote the use of citizen science on the Web as an appropriate low-cost technology, in particular for researchers in developing regions. The CCC partners are CERN, the UN Institute for Training and Research and the University of Geneva. The Shuttleworth Foundation is the founding sponsor of the CCC. IBM, the Open Society Foundations, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation are recent project sponsors. For more information see

[2] The Open Knowledge Foundation is a global movement to open up the world’s data and see it used and useful, empowering citizens with new knowledge and insights, and enabling fair and sustainable societies. The Foundation catalyses activities which promote and build on freely reusable open data and open content – including public information, publicly funded research and public domain cultural content. See

  • The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) is the world’s leading open data and open knowledge conference, running since 2005. It is organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation. This year’s OKCon is taking place in Geneva from September 16-18. The theme is Open Data – Broad, Deep, Connected, and speakers include Ellen Miller (Sunlight Foundation), John Ellis (CERN and Kings College, London), Chris Vein (World Bank), Jay Naidoo (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), and Victoria Stodden (Columbia University). See

  • Crowdcrafting will feature in a special satellite event on Open and Citizen Science at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva, where Daniel Lombraña González will be helping prospective new users set up their projects. The workshop will take place on Thursday 19th September, 10:00 - 17:00 at the Centre Universitaire d’Informatique Université de Genève, Auditorium, Ground Floor. To take part see:

  • CernVM is a baseline Virtual Software Appliance for the participants of CERN LHC experiments. See CKAN is the world's leading open-source open data portal, which powers sites including and See EpiCollect is an app for data collection using mobile phones. See

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