The Promise and Peril of “Citizen Science”

The Promise and Peril of “Citizen Science” – and Why This Matters to Safety
Robert Emery, DrPH, CHP, CBSP, CIH, CSP, CHMM, CPP, ARM

The proliferation of personal electronic devices has resulted in an exponential expansion in the ability to rapidly gather and disseminate information – some accurate, some not so accurate, and some downright wrong. With virtually every member of the workforce and community now equipped with this technology, the notion of “citizen science” has expanded, wherein citizens and employees can collect and instantly transmit data and information about exposures and situations. While this technique holds great promise as a “force multiplier” to address various concerns, the technique is largely unfiltered and can result in the dissemination of misinformation, apprehension, and confusion. This presentation will discuss the evolution of “citizen science” and how it has changed with recent technological developments and then will provide a series of suggested steps for biosafety programs to take to proactively address the challenge.