Exploiting Serious Games for Public Engagement and Citizen Science in Plant Health

Invasive pests and diseases are a significant threat to trees and plants in the UK and worldwide. Drivers such as climate change and increasing global trade in plant material make the problem worse. Conventional methods of detecting pests and diseases using trained professional plant health inspectors are unable to keep up with the scale of the problem. There is therefore increasing interest in “citizen science” initiatives that enlist members of the public to help with detection.

Gamification has been identified as a novel technique that can be applied to engage, recruit and educate the public about plant health and citizen science, and to sustain interest and participation after recruits have signed up. This project involves SICSA Computer Scientists from Stirling and the West of Scotland, as well as plant health and citizen science experts from Fera, Forestry Commission, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the University of Stirling School of Education.

The grant will fund a workshop and networking activities to bring these experts together to design a high-impact project on gamification for plant health and prepare and submit a funding bid. The workshop is planned for August 2016 and a bid is expected to be submitted during December 2016.

The Research Challenge Leader for Exploiting Serious Games for Public Engagement and Citizen Science is Dr Savi Maharaj (savi@cs.stir.ac.uk).