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Night Knights: exploiting games to engage people in a citizen science campaign

Presentation from the STARS4ALL project at the DSI Fair 2017, during the Collective Sensing and Action workshop. Focus on the Night Knights classification game, available at

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Night Knights: exploiting games to engage people in a citizen science campaign

  1. 1. Night Knights: exploiting games to engage people in a citizen science campaign Irene Celino – CEFRIEL – @iricelino Esteban González Guardia – UPM – @eglezguardia Roma, February 1st 2017
  2. 2. How many of you haven’t seen anything like this in a long time (…or ever)? This is a view from Tenerife Canary islands have a special legislation to protect sky darkness at night Preserving The Skies 10th Anniversary of the Starlight Declaration La Palma, Spain – April 18-21
  3. 3. Light pollution: should you really care? Excessive light at night has a number of adverse effects:  Diminished night sky visibility, because of light scattering (i.e. you can’t see the stars anymore, especially from cities)  Negative repercussion on the circadian clock of higher vertebrates, including humans (i.e. you don’t sleep well at night)  Interference with life and reproduction of many species (e.g. birds loosing their orientation while migrating because they get confused by city lights)  Energy waste for unshielded outdoor lights (i.e. economic impact)
  4. 4. Creating awareness through games Not everybody is equally appealed by an awareness creation campaign, it requires consciousness! We are exploring a different kind of incentive to engage a possibly larger audience: fun through games In the mean time, we are solving an issue related to light pollution research, to take a step forward to detection and measurement of the phenomenon
  5. 5. Light pollution as seen from above Astronauts on board of the International Space Station (ISS) take a lot of pictures as part of their activity NASA makes all those pictures available for free use online Still we need to tell the pictures we need (i.e. cities at night) apart from all other photos Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti taking pictures from the ISS windows during her space service
  6. 6. Stars and completely black images (to calibrate light pollution measures) Classifying ISS pictures Cities at night (primary objective) Aurora borealis ISS Daylight or mixed
  7. 7. Night Knights  Game with a Purpose, i.e. pure gaming application that “hides” a computational task  Users play to achieve the game goals, but their actions contribute to the solution of the ISS image classification issue  Game mood related to astronauts, spaceship crew, countdown to lift-off, space mission, etc.  Multilingual Web application with responsive design to be easily played on mobile devices
  8. 8. Night Knights gameplay Double-player mechanism with 1-minute game timer Goal to pick the same category for each picture Gain points for agreements  from agreements between players we can derive the pictures’ “true” classification (cross-validation)
  9. 9. Night Knights incentives  Personal profile and leaderboards (all time and last 10 games best players)  Badges for specific game achievements  Access to and download of the most beautiful pictures you played with
  10. 10. Competition and “tangible” reward  On April 3rd, STARS4ALL will launch a public competition for active participation to our initiatives to fight light pollution  Participants will be undergraduate students and will be required to demonstrate their contributions to our cause, including playing to the Night Knights game  NASA, ESA and other institutions will help us spread the word  And the winner will participate to next summer expedition to the total solar eclipse in Idaho (USA)
  11. 11. STARS4ALL expeditions and broadcasting of astronomical events STARS4ALL YouTube channel:
  12. 12. Thanks for your attention! Irene Celino – CEFRIEL – @iricelino Esteban González Guardia – UPM – @eglezguardia