Citizen Scientists – Plastic Waste on Beaches – The Vitruvians

Year 2021
Partner The Ocean Cleanup

We joined The DaVinci project to gain experience in helping to create a more sustainable world, and to get a designer´s mindset. We were inspired to work with The Ocean Cleanup. The Ocean Cleanup has been working on removing plastic from oceans and rivers since its inception in 2013. Part of their efforts include conducting wide-scale research and analysis of huge patches of plastics in the ocean to better identify areas in need of clean-up. We were called upon by the Ocean Cleanup to conduct research and produce a solution on a dilemma that revolved around motivating volunteers to sample regularly, namely Citizen Scientists.  

In order to know where to focus the Ocean Cleanup’s efforts in the reduction of plastics in the ocean, citizen scientists are encouraged to participate in global scale data collection. Sampling must be done at regular intervals for it to be useful within science. We came up with the idea of developing an app that transformed sampling into a competitive gamified environment with points given for a streak of regular sampling. The individual and team with the most points will be visible on a leaderboard. Moreover, the app will act as an information tool to spread the news about the progress, developments and exploits of the citizen scientists.  Perhaps The Ocean Cleanup could eventually use the app for other volunteer projects as well! The path of creating and testing a prototype was quite challenging but very fulfilling. We learned how to go through a design cycle working in a multi disciplinary team. In other words, we worked together to arrive at ideas, evaluate them, and finally put them into practice by creating our prototype.