Zooniverse engages people in science with crowd-based research projects. They use Microsoft Azure to store and organize data for projects across disciplines, including ecology, astronomy, zoology, medical research, arts, and humanities.Learn about Zooniverse
Processing increasingly large datasets poses a bottleneck for producing scientific outcomes. Citizen science — engaging the public in research — has proven a creative solution, particularly when coupled with automated machine learning efforts. But many organizations lack the funding and technological infrastructure to create engaging online citizen science experiences and handle these complex datasets. Web development alone for crowdsourced research projects can require months or even years, costing a fortune and rendering critical research all but unfeasible.
Zooniverse is the world’s largest platform for people-powered research, using open-source and Azure technologies to lower the barriers to entry for scientific discovery. A collaboration between Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, the University of Oxford, and the University of Minnesota, Zooniverse enables researchers to quickly initiate new projects with the Project Builder platform. Researchers upload their images, videos, or audio files — like camera trap images of wild animals or satellite imagery of a star — and then Zooniverse’s global community of over two million volunteers tag, annotate, or transcribe the file to aid classification. Contributions from many individuals are combined, relying on the ‘wisdom of crowds’ to generate reliable and accurate data. By creating consensus-based classifications, researchers can produce reliable results.
Harnessing the power of the crowd
More than 350 projects have relied on over two million volunteers to advance research across astronomy, ecology, biomedicine, transcription, and more. Humans outperform computers at complex pattern recognition and identification of unexpected findings. AI can assist in tackling the scale of millions of tasks, making it easier and faster to leverage volunteer participation.
How Zooniverse works
A researcher or citizen scientist creates a Zooniverse project and uploads images, videos, or audio files to Azure for crowdsourced annotation. Volunteers tag, annotate, or transcribe files to transform the data into human-readable information. Once a data point is independently classified by enough participants, it’s considered reliable and is used for scientific analysis.
How Zooniverse uses Azure
- Azure Kubernetes Service for scalable hosting of APIs and applications
- Blob Storage for media storage and static site hosting
- Azure Databases to house data in managed Postgres and MySQL databases
- Cache for Redis to manage our in-memory data storage
- Front Door to deploy apps and static sites
- DNS Zones to manage domains across Zooniverse sites