UCL is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the UK, and within the top 25 in the world. Academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems inform the university’s ethos to this day and are central to its 20-year strategy, UCL 2034. UCL encourages public engagement to support communities with scientific expertise, create knowledge in collaboration with communities and members of the public and create a sustainable channel of dialogue where knowledge and experiences are shared and where ‘public participants’ influence future research to maximise societal impact and benefit. The Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, is the UCL partner in the WeGovNow! project. ExCiteS is a multidisciplinary group with over 15 researchers that develop the theories, tools and methodologies, to enable situated, bottom-up public engagement practices, which are driven by people and their local needs. The group is involved in many projects and recently launched the H2020-ISSI-6-2015-1 Doing Together Science (DITOs) project, which ExCiteS coordinates.
The involvement of ExCiteS in WeGovNow! focuses on technological, user as well as spatial data aspects. First, ExCiteS will provide its expertise to support the technological integration of the various systems and contribute to the creation of the WeGovNow! Platform with its Community Maps and GeoKey systems. These are already used for supporting local authorities and citizens in decision-making processes in various contexts. Second, ExCiteS will work closely with our social enterprise Mapping for Change to engage local authorities in a structured but also iterative process of user requirements elicitation. The philosophy of User-Centred Design (UCD) is not only central to WeGovNow! Project, it is also pivotal to the ethos and practices of ExCiteS which will drive this process. Finally, the ExCiteS group has an extensive experience in the development and use of geospatial tools and data issues and it will further support WeGovNow! in spatial data quality and data integration assessments, with a particular focus on addressing metadata and data reuse issues.