SoCS: Socially intelligent computing to support citizen science

The SOCS project (NSF grant 09-68470) investigates the capabilities and potential of social computational systems (SoCS) in the context of citizen science. Citizen science projects are a form of social-computational system. Whether it be volunteers playing a role in massive, distributed sensing networks exploring the migration of birds, or applying their unique human perceptual skills to searching the skies, human motivation and performance is fundamental to system performance. However, undertaking science through a social computational system brings unique challenges. To understand and address these challenges, this proposal presents a three-phase study of SoCS to support scientific research, grounded in group theory and rooted empirically in case studies and action research. More specifically, the proposal includes case studies of several citizen science projects to establish the nature of the SoCS currently in use, development of SoCS to support different kinds of citizen science projects and evaluation of the impacts of these systems on the outputs and processes of the projects.

The system development for this project has resulted in a set of serious games to motivate volunteer participants to work on the classification of images of biological species. The systems can be seen and played at

The current PI for this project is Research Professor Jun Wang.