Evidence gathered by lay people through forms of citizen science are becoming more and more accurate, reliable and credible as the ‘civic sentinels’ performing environmental monitoring follow scientific protocols, seek advice from experts and confront their results with official measurements. This is a truly constructive form of ordinary people’s engagement with and in science. However, the data collected via citizen science initiatives are often dismissed in official discussions.
Such evidence could instead be an helpful resource to tackle institutional enforcement gaps as competent authorities may struggle to track all instances of contamination. The ‘Sensing for Justice’ (SensJus) project exactly researches the potential of grassroots-driven environmental monitoring as a source of evidence to claim environmental justice, and as a tool for environmental conflicts’ mediation.
SensJus aims to leverage this engagement potential of civic monitoring making the recipient institutions (including and in particular enforcement agencies and courts) more aware of this practice, and more open to embrace such data flows. The combination between the legal dimension and a more hard-science topic such as citizen science, and the use of art and story-telling to complement the scientific inquiry makes the project very innovative and different from other projects in the field.