May 302014
image of FieldTrip GB badges

On 12th June the Beltane Public Engagement Network will be holding their Annual Gathering (#ebag14), an opportunity for those working in public engagement throughout Edinburgh (and beyond) to gather, chat and share experiences.

This year the theme of the event is “Citizens, Research!” and the lovely folk of Beltane have asked me to be part of the event, knowing that I’m interested in crowdsourcing and citizen science, particularly given my role in the EU-funded COBWEB project. So, in addition to doing a wee prezi at the event, we have been plotting a bit of real interactive crowd sourcing around the event itself using FieldTrip GB, and partly inspired by our Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas event last year!

In fact, my description of FieldTrip GB from those posts is still useful:

The FieldTrip GB logo.

FieldTrip GB is a free mobile phone app and authoring tool created by my colleagues. It’s origins lie in the need for those on fieldtrips to have access to good quality mapping (currently of Great Britain but hopefully we’ll expand to cover further geographical areas). So FTGB supports download of a high quality but entirely open source collection of map data.

But Fieldtrips also tend to involve the collection of data and that’s where FTGB gets extra clever with a custom authoring tool that enables you to create whatever data collection you need for your project or research. You set up a form for different data types then you sync your phone (via Dropbox) and, as if by magic, you will instantly find the new form available on your phone and you can save records to the app whether or not you are connected to the internet. Every form records your location but you can also edit this at the time – for when you can’t get quite close enough, conditions are dangerous, or you forget something that you want to add later.

The app and authoring tool was designed with some particular academic uses in mind, but we reckon it has huge potential beyond that…

And indeed it has already had some great usage – the app is being adapted and tested in a variety of projects including COBWEB and Spatial Memories. We know that community groups are using it to collect environmental data in their areas of interest… and we’ve also recently made the code Open Source via GitHub. So, what are we doing with it next month?

The Beltane Annual Gathering 2014 Mission!

The  Beltane community brings together professionals in a huge range of areas of research and practice who all have one thing in common: they are all passionate about public engagement. So, what better thing to crowd source than some information on that very topic!

We are asking those registered for the event (if you haven’t signed up yet, then you can here) to share their, to quote Ru Paul entirely out of context, “uniqueness, nerve and talent” by leaving little moments of public engagement around the beautiful city of Edinburgh, whether in text, image or audio form!

How to take part

  1. Start by downloading the FieldTrip GB App – you can click on this link or use a QR code reader with the image below:
    QR code for FieldTrip GB App

    Download FieldTrip GB via this link


  2. Once you have downloaded the app you will need to login using the shared Beltane details (see email from organisers)
  3. Click “Sync”
  4. Tap on the “Capture” (bottom menu)
  5. Select the “ebag14” custom form
  6. Fill in the form!
  7. Once you have completed the form – one or many times – and returned somewhere with a reliable internet connection/wifi make sure you hit “Sync” again to ensure your records are sent in to FieldTrip GB
  8. Go to, login, and click “View Records” to view all the records collected so far! You can view these on a map, a table, as images, or you can download/export the records.

We hope this will be a fun hands on experience for all of the participants but will also build up a great map of the city seen through the eyes of the brilliant, inspiring Beltane Network members and their public engagement work!

And if my mention of that Fringe show has whetted your appetite look out for a new post shortly on the two shows I am involved with in this years Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas programme at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014: What Skeletons Are in Your Closet? and The Internet: A Human Right?

:: Update – View my presentation here, and the entries (so far) on Google Earth with the Beltane Public Engagement KML ::

Useful resources

 May 30, 2014  Posted by at 6:59 pm Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »