The Geneva Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication
from 4-8 September 2023
Seán Lynch started researching litter mapping in 2008 when introduced to GIS in University. After working as a divemaster in the tropics, he came home and did two MSc to develop citizen science methodologies. He then taught himself to code and launched OpenLitterMap in April 2017 which has now been used by over 4000 people in 80 countries. He recently invested in a training rig and currently using OpenLitterMap 150,000+ images with manually verified tags to train the OpenLitterAI. He has many more plans to develop the open citizen science economy which has huge global potential but remains largely unexplored.
OpenLitterMap is an open source, interactive, and accessible database of the world’s litter and plastic pollution. Inspired by the open values of OpenStreetMap, we apply the same principles of crowdsourcing and open data to litter and plastic pollution. All around the world, 100s of millions of people have been equipped with powerful devices that can collect data but this unprecedented human potential remains significantly underdeveloped. We are developing a fun, open, and rewarding data collection experience to harness this emerging resource, and empowering many people to share data and be a part of the scientific and public process for the first time. Although plastic pollution was first recognised to have a global distribution in the world’s oceans as early as 1975, nothing was done for decades as access to knowledge was restricted. Once social media arrived, huge numbers of people were able to easily share and consume information. This resulted in a huge awakening of global pollution that changed mainstream political dialogue almost overnight. We are doing to data what social media did to information. OpenLitterMap is available as a web and mobile app on all platforms and is free to download and use.