FAQ

Do I have to register to provide data?
You have to register when you use the app but anyone can pass by our measurement stations and take measurements anonymously with a form.
Do I need to pay to participate?
No! We very much appreciate that you are willing to provide us with data for this project. No funding is necessary.
Will I be able to see my own data points?
Yes, in the app and on spotteron.com/crowdwater your are able to see your own data contributions as well as those of the other users.
Will everybody see my measurements?
Yes, all measurements (values and time) will be made public on the homepage. No private information such as name, etc. will be published.
How will the data be used?
The crowdsourced data will be used to improve hydrological models to predict floods and low flow periods. The results will form the basis of our PhD thesis and will be published in scientific journals. The data is not used for any commercial purpose and won’t be shared with third parties.
What equipment do I need?
All you need is a smartphone. Your phone needs a GPS module and if you would like to add a new station to the network you will need a phone camera.
Can I do this with children?
Yes, you can take measurements with your children. Depending on the age and your own assessment of your child they can even do this alone and compare their measurements with yours. Keep in mind that rivers can be dangerous, so please watch your child at all times and don’t encourage risky behaviour.
Are there particular times when it will be especially helpful for me to send data?
There will be times when it will be particularly helpful for us to get a lot of data. This is mostly dependent on the weather situation. This might include periods when the water is especially high, e.g. during floods, or low. Take extra care when you go close to rivers or streams during floods, as streams can be unpredictable and dangerous. Please always keep a safe distance! We will alert users with the help of push messages on the app, when these interesting weather periods are.
Isn’t this data already measured by official measurement stations?
Many of the bigger rivers in Switzerland are gauged but it would be too expensive to have measurement equipment at all the interesting locations. Crowdsourced data can help increase the spatial distribution of the measurements. We expect this will help improve the performance of these models. If you send us data from a river that is gauged, it will help us assess the reliability of crowdsourced data. So we encourage you to also take measurements where you see a gauging station nearby on the same river.

Soil moisture has a very high spatial variability, which means that it differs a lot between locations, even if they are close to each other. Therefore, any additional soil moisture data can help us to understand the processes beneath the soil.

Switzerland is an ideal country to compare citizen observations to conventional measurement techniques and to assess the potential of the crowdsourcing approach, since there is a relatively high density of conventional measurements. In the long-term, we hope that this concept can be transferred to countries with a sparse conventional measurement network, such as developing countries.
Can crowdsourced data be good enough for scientific studies?
Yes, many previous citizen science studies have already shown this. The measurements might not be as precise as with conventional measurement equipment, but the magnitude of the values is likely to be correct. Values that are physically impossible or highly unlikely will be discarded.