Planetary Response Network

Project summary

This project will host an interdisciplinary meeting of policy- and decision-makers, astrophysicists, computer scientists, and developers. The purpose of the meeting is to provide a critical connection between the first group and the Planetary Response Network, a Zooniverse project designed to harness the power of the crowd for analysis of satellite data during and after humanitarian crises. This collaboration aims to grow and strengthen the network of those who would actually use the project’s results to deliver aid.

Through the Zooniverse platform, the Oxford Physics department is a world leader in harnessing the collective power of the crowd for advanced and diverse pattern recognition. Its community of over 1,200,000 volunteers has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to provide rapid and accurate classifications of image datasets. With over 70 refereed academic journal articles (with over 1800 combined citations to date; across more than 25 scientific projects, they have the expertise required to distill millions of raw clicks into useful scientific data. Doing so has allowed scientists to achieve results not previously possible, from the discovery of a rare new class of galaxy to investigations of the complex interactions between predators in Serengeti National Park. From astronomy to zoology, the Zooniverse is truly an interdisciplinary research platform.

The Zooinverse team has now begun applying the techniques of citizen science to disciplines outside of science. In particular, classification of satellite images by the public during and immediately after a humanitarian crisis can provide rapid and potentially life-saving information to first responders and decision-makers at speeds and scales not possible without the help of the crowd. The Planetary Response Network project seeks to apply the rigorous user-weighting and statistical techniques honed in astrophysical research projects to crowdsourced data sets that can provide actionable information for the immediate benefit of threatened and/or displaced populations. 


Lead investigator

Dr Brooke Simmons, Department of Physics and Balliol College, University of Oxford

Research team

Professor Chris Lintott, Department of Physics, University of Oxford

Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Edwin Simpson, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

Contact details for enquiries

Please email the lead investigator, Dr Brooke Simmons, for any queries regarding this project.