DUNS (Data Use Notification Service) is a centralised service to (1) register usage of the citizen science observations downloaded from the Cos4Bio and Cos4Env portals and (2) make this information available to the citizen observatory the observation comes from. The aim is to help make citizen observatories aware of how their data is used and reward their users’ contributions.

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Service description

DUNS will help make research institutions and other stakeholders that manage citizen observatories more aware and able to assess the impact of the data they receive. Furthermore, they will be able to reward the valuable data provided by the citizen science users. Ultimately, it will also allow citizen scientists to know where, when and how often their observations are used. So, both individual users and citizen observatories will be able to see the impact their contribution has on conservation, scientific knowledge and policy.

Development & how it works

Every day, participants send all sorts of data to citizen science platforms (e.g. biodiversity pictures or air quality measurements). Some citizen observatories such as Natusfera make their biodiversity and environmental observations available on Cos4Env and Cos4Bio, two portals that compile biodiversity and environmental observations, respectively, from multiple citizen observatories in one place. DUNS will track data usage for all the observations that are available on these two portals.

When someone downloads an observation from Cos4Bio or Cos4Env, (1) a form will pop up asking them why they are downloading it, for example to contribute to a paper, a scientific study, etc. and (2) DUNS will generate LSIDs (Life Science Identifiers) for each observation. These LSIDs make it possible to monitor how the observation is used. How? Firstly, anyone who uses one of these observations or datasets must cite them on any website, mentioning the associated LSIDs. So, when someone consults the data, the DUNS service is notified and:

  • Registers the request and the source
  • Stores this information
  • Shows anyone who clicks on the link (with the associated LSID) information about a specific observation or dataset (species, author, date, etc.).
The main problem for camera trap users is that they get hundreds (or thousands) of pictures that they (1) have to filter (some of them were just triggered by the movement of plants/trees due to wind, not because an animal was present) and (2) have to label properly. This service will address these problems.
How can a citizen observatory receive their data usage information?

DUNS has an API to integrate the usage information for their observations into the citizen observatories, allowing them to improve or develop recognition systems. 

What are LSIDs?

Essentially, an LSID is a unique identifier for a piece of data. They are similar to DOIs used by many publishers to uniquely identify an article or document, and to provide it with a permanent web address (URL). So, you can think of LSIDs as unique URLs that allow datato be identified and tracked. For more information, click here.

We are working on this service, it will be available soon!

Innovation for citizen observatories:

In the context of the Eyal-Yamakami engagement model, there is a need to search for a novel way to acknowledge and reward participation that offers citizens the chance to recognize authorship and track the use of the data they collected in a global context.


Questions & answers

  • Will DUNS make it easier for citizen observatories that integrate it to know what a dataset or a specific observation has been used for, e.g. an invasive species report or a scientific paper?

Based on the form integrated into the Cos4Bio and Cos4Env portals, we get the information that a particular dataset will be used or has been downloaded for “x reason”, based on information provided by the Cos4Bio user. In addition to this, our idea is to identify when someone requests information elsewhere on the Internet. We can do this if the URL we generate for each record or dataset has been referenced, e.g. on a website.

  • Does the service only work for the citizen observatories that are part of Cos4Env and Co4Bio?

For the moment, yes. 

  • Can a citizen observatory use DUNS without being part of Cos4Bio or Cos4Env?

It will be an external component to the Cos4Bio and Cos4Env architecture, integrated through an API.

  • Can all citizen observatories that part of Cos4Env and Cos4Bio use DUNS? What are the requirements?

Integrating DUNS requires that citizen observatories integrate the API for DUNS and have some sort of service to notify their users of the usage reported by DUNS.

  • How often will DUNS notify the citizen science observations of usage?

We still have to think about this. It might be a single notification with all the uses throughout the day.

  • How does DUNS comply with copyright?

All observations collected in Cos4Bio and Cos4Env follow the CC-BY, CC0 and CC-BY-SA license, which requires observations to be attributed to the user with their name and surname.

  • Does DUNS store all the data regarding clicks on the URLs it has generated? Where?

The idea is to create a database in DUNS of all the websites or documents on the Internet where the URL that we generate for each observation or dataset is registered. This way, the user will be aware of how their observations are used.

  • If someone accesses or downloads the observations through the citizen observatory itself, does DUNS also track it?

No, the DUNS service will be integrated into Cos4Bio and Cos4Env.

  • How will DUNS be integrated into Cos4Bio/Cos4Env?

Not in this first prototype, but perhaps in the future any external citizen observatory could use DUNS to generate their own LSIDs to get usage information for their users’ observations.

Want to join the co-design community?

Interact and meet other professionals working in your field

You will be able to network with other professionals and projects.

Help boost the functionalities of citizen observatories

For example, improve species identification with artificial intelligence, data integration from various citizen science platforms, etc.

Be an active part of the open science movement

Cos4Cloud's technical services are open source and are intended to be adapted and improved by the community involved.

Learn about citizen science, technology, and co-design

Also, we will tell you how we have applied co-design feedback in developing the service at the end of the project.

Let's co-create and test DUNS!