Welcome to the Maasai Mara Citizen Observatory (MMCO). The MMCO is a platform being developed by, for and with key stakeholders actively involved in finding balancing biodiversity conservation and livelihood development in the wider Mara region. MMCO and the Kenya case is of 6 case studies being developed through the Ground Truth 2.0 project led by Dr. Uta Wehn of IHE. This EU project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No.689744.
Development partners are Upande, IHE, TAHMO and Gavagai. Co-design sessions have involved many stakeholders, including MMWCA, Friends of the Mara, KMD, KWS, Narok County, African Conservation Center, National Museums of Kenya, MAMASE, Maasai Mara University, civil society and many others. We are finalising tool development with these partners, embedding the tools within these organisations, ensuring data validation, sharing of data where possible, etc. For any questions, please contact us at info[at]upande.com.
The Mara National Reserve is administered by Narok County government. In order to manage the reserve and to create sustainable business opportunities for its citizens and tourists, the county government needs reliable biodiversity data. These are currently lacking. The Ground Truth 2.0 citizen observatory will build on the VirtualKenya platform and aims to initiate communication between local governments, policy makers and reserve managers on the one hand and Mara visitors on the other.
Through an app, visitors, tour guides, researchers, wardens and others can highlight biodiversity and environmental issues. The app also logs vehicle movement and speed and warns when official tracks are deserted. In addition, meteorological data are collected by one of the partners to predict species distributions. Big screens at lodges will feature all the observations.
Citizen science is on the increase. Using their own observations and mobile devices, citizens can provide a new data stream of local information about their environment, complementing existing systems and data sources.
Ground Truth 2.0 is a 3-year EC funded project that is setting up and validating six citizen observatories in real conditions, in four European and two African demonstration cases. The project is demonstrating that such observatories are technologically feasible, can be implemented sustainably and that they have many societal and economic benefits. The ultimate objective is the global market uptake of the concept and the enabling technologies.
"Via citizen observatories, citizens - and not just scientists and professionals – can be enabled to share data about their environment and to take on a new role in decision making and cooperative planning." Uta Wehn, Project Director
The thematic focus of Ground Truth 2.0 is on flora and fauna, as well as water availability and water quality, for land and natural resources management. The project uses mobile apps and social media analytics to collect explicitly and implicitly-sensed citizen data. As such, citizens are enabled to share data about the environment and to take on a new, crucial role in environmental monitoring, decision making, cooperative planning and environmental stewardship.
Ground Truth 2.0 recognises the importance of real-life interaction between people and technology to set up a successful system. Its innovative approach combine the social dimensions of citizen observatories with enabling technologies, so that the implementation of the respective citizen observatories is tailored to their envisaged societal and economic impacts.