Ordinary citizens can be of a great help in improving maritime safety. A new, innovative solution by the ESABALT project of BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme, enables leisure boaters to make observations and report about human activity and interactions with nature. The project is an important first step in crowdsourcing applications that have yet to be examined in more detail in the Baltic Sea setting.
"Our project allows ordinary citizens to become both collectors and users of valuable data while at sea. The data collected can also help in preventing accidents and other dangerous situations," says Professor Heidi Kuusniemi, the coordinator of the BONUS ESABALT project from the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute.
Besides maritime safety, the other 12 ongoing BONUS innovation projects develop new methods to evaluate water quality, create robotic fish sensors to monitor fish passages and enhance phosphorus recycling, among other. Altogether 52 research institutions representing all the Baltic Sea EU coastal states are participating in the BONUS innovation projects. Finnish researchers participate in eight of these projects.
"The BONUS programme combines research and eco-innovation and by doing so supports blue growth that is based on sustainable development. We encourage more SMEs to join us in the research work in supporting the protection of the Baltic Sea next year when further innovation projects funded by BONUS will be starting," says Dr. Kaisa Kononen, the Executive Director of BONUS.
Active citizen science has an important role to play in environmental decision making processes and as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. BONUS is funded jointly from the national research funding institutions in the eight EU member states around the Baltic Sea and the European Union. Russia participates in BONUS through bilateral agreements. In Finland BONUS projects are funded by the Academy of Finland, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and Finnish Transport Safety Agency.
BONUS vision is to create long-term, multi-disciplinary research cooperation, which produces sound knowledge to support the implementation of HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EU Blue Growth Strategy and national, regional and European-wide policies.
BONUS programme is based on the co-decision of the EU Parliament and the Council. BONUS is funded by its members, the national research funding institutions and the European Union's Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration by a total of EUR 100 million for the years 2011-2017.
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