Citizen science and public participation

Citizen engagement requires connecting technology and society

Increased citizen engagement is confronting the water sector with steadily growing demands. A connection needs to be made between technology and social-governance issues. Thanks to KWR’s knowledge of and experience in citizen science and participation processes, water utilities and Water Authorities can respond to today’s demands of customers and citizens. This helps identify related bottlenecks, make use of strategic opportunities, and narrow the gap between citizens and the water sector.

Growing role for governance

Water utilities, Water Authorities, municipalities and regions are all experiencing a growing interest in public engagement. Customers play a varied and complex role in the water sector. They are not only water users, but increasingly also critical consumers and vocal citizens. As a result of this growing citizen engagement, the bar is being set progressively higher for public organisations. The water sector needs to have a good service provision and be transparent. Technology and substance are no longer the only factors in managing the bottlenecks and opportunities. This is why insight is needed into the social and governance aspects of processes. Structuring governance sensibly demands a multifaceted approach, ranging from informing water users to involving them in urban water management. Knowledge about participation processes is vital in addressing the changing demands of citizens and customers.

Short introduction about the role of citizen science for the water sector (in Dutch only).

Connecting issues

Citizen science and public participation are effective means of connecting technical and social-governance issues. KWR has a great deal of knowledge and experience to share with the water sector in these areas. In various national and international projects, we study the interplay within which governments, knowledge institutions, market players, community organisations and citizens shape the provision of drinking water and integrated water management. Our expertise resides in research methods that are both quantitative and qualitative (interviews, focus groups, surveys, network analysis).

Stakeholders seeking support for participation processes can turn to KWR for example for the following:

  • Understanding the attitude and behaviour – and diversity – of citizens with regard to water.
  • Establishing, shaping and interpreting citizen science projects, in which citizens participate in the collection and co-creation of knowledge and innovation.
  • Insight into the form and extent of citizen participation in the operational management and activities of water organisations.
  • Involvement of citizens, whether active or not, in the acceptance, shaping and/or implementation of innovations.
  • Determining the relevance of the growth of social media for risk communication, perception and trust.
  • Promoting sustainability of the urban water cycle through public participation.
  • Translating citizen engagement into a step-by-step transition to a water-wise world.

Insight into bottlenecks and opportunities

With its knowledge of participation processes, KWR helps water utilities and Water Authorities respond to today’s demands of customers and citizens. This produces insight into current and future bottlenecks and strategic opportunities for public participation.