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Table 1.

miniSASS strengths and challenges.

StrengthsChallenges
It supports the global trend to engage citizen science. This is especially relevant for realizing SDG 6 (b). Crowd-sourced data have its own unique validity; while each sample may not have a high level of confidence, the sheer number of data records strengthens the research rigor. The approach engages citizens with the SDG agenda, enabling them to contribute to a global effort. This could become a VERY big promotion for the SDGs. miniSASS data have been used to demonstrate citizen science participation in monitoring compliance with water quality objectives. The miniSASS data management system allows for the clustering of the data into a time-series. This means progress over time can be measured and compared at the same site. miniSASS costs very little to use. Simple apparatus such as a net, which can be home-made, and a reference sheet that is available as a free down-load, on the website, strengthens the miniSASS study. Since the macroinvertebrates are visible to the naked eye, the shape and form are of most importance. This means that advanced competence in languages such as English is not essential. Indeed, nine-year-old isiZulu speaking children are able to master the technique. miniSASS materials are also available in other languages such as French, Afrikaans and isiZulu. Participants need to learn how to do miniSASS. Although there are simple instructions and tutorials on the website, participants learn best in the field with an experienced person. Citizen science by nature requires a level of coordination. At present, the coordination is provided by Ayanda Lepheana and GroundTruth with website support from SAIABa and SAEONb, both South African government-supported institutions. If the miniSASS data are to be used for SDG reporting globally, it will require additional support. Approval of data by the government may be challenging if the government prefers to ‘be in charge’ and not receptive to citizen science input and participation. To what extent will governments embrace and support the democratization of science? Each country will have the ability to either embrace citizen science to its fullest, or for government officials to use the method themselves as a low-tech monitoring method. While the latter is not invalid, it is unlikely that it will result in the high number of data that will be collected by a strong citizen science programme. 
StrengthsChallenges
It supports the global trend to engage citizen science. This is especially relevant for realizing SDG 6 (b). Crowd-sourced data have its own unique validity; while each sample may not have a high level of confidence, the sheer number of data records strengthens the research rigor. The approach engages citizens with the SDG agenda, enabling them to contribute to a global effort. This could become a VERY big promotion for the SDGs. miniSASS data have been used to demonstrate citizen science participation in monitoring compliance with water quality objectives. The miniSASS data management system allows for the clustering of the data into a time-series. This means progress over time can be measured and compared at the same site. miniSASS costs very little to use. Simple apparatus such as a net, which can be home-made, and a reference sheet that is available as a free down-load, on the website, strengthens the miniSASS study. Since the macroinvertebrates are visible to the naked eye, the shape and form are of most importance. This means that advanced competence in languages such as English is not essential. Indeed, nine-year-old isiZulu speaking children are able to master the technique. miniSASS materials are also available in other languages such as French, Afrikaans and isiZulu. Participants need to learn how to do miniSASS. Although there are simple instructions and tutorials on the website, participants learn best in the field with an experienced person. Citizen science by nature requires a level of coordination. At present, the coordination is provided by Ayanda Lepheana and GroundTruth with website support from SAIABa and SAEONb, both South African government-supported institutions. If the miniSASS data are to be used for SDG reporting globally, it will require additional support. Approval of data by the government may be challenging if the government prefers to ‘be in charge’ and not receptive to citizen science input and participation. To what extent will governments embrace and support the democratization of science? Each country will have the ability to either embrace citizen science to its fullest, or for government officials to use the method themselves as a low-tech monitoring method. While the latter is not invalid, it is unlikely that it will result in the high number of data that will be collected by a strong citizen science programme. 

aSouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity http://www.saiab.ac.za.

bSouth African Environmental Observation Network.

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