Challenge

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.

Solutions

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.

How Zooniverse uses Azure

Wisconsin elk captured by a camera trap

People-powered research

Whale fluke emerging from the water