The OpenGeoResearch platform: On-site knowledge transfer

  OpenGeoResearch Illustration Copyright: © gia  

In everyday life, most of us encounter many different questions with a spatial reference, i.e. questions that relate to a specific place on earth. However, many of these questions are difficult or impossible to answer at first glance and on site.

The platform "OpenGeoResearch" offers the possibility to find answers to these spatial questions: Using a smartphone app, users can locate their questions and explain them in more detail by adding images and descriptions. The questions are collected online in a question portal, displayed on an online map with the help of the images and other information, and can be commented on or answered. In the process, scientists moderate the submitted questions and answers, but also add scientifically sound expert answers themselves. "I downloaded the app today and I think it's great that I can now ask questions that I sometimes encounter on my walks directly on site," comments Mona Ziemes, one of the first users of the app. "I also find it very nice that scientists can answer me directly. I'm already looking forward to the next walks around here!"

The core of the platform is its participatory approach: all interested parties, from inquisitive citizens to proven experts, can search together for answers to the questions posed. From geography to nature and climate to urban planning, many topics are represented on the platform and are constantly evolving.

The project also deals with the approach of "Citizen Science". This involves the question of how science can be co-created for and by citizens, how to use, disseminate and make valuable local knowledge accessible, and how to improve and coordinate scientific cooperation with the population.

The project is part of the "Wissenschaftsjahr 2022 – Nachgefragt!" (Year of Science 2022 – Inquired!) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It is being carried out in cooperation between the Geodetic Institute and Chair of Building informatics and Geoinformation Systems and the Institute of Geography at RWTH Aachen University as well as other cooperation partners.

"We as the project team are pleased that the project is now starting and are all very excited to see what questions will be asked on the OpenGeoResearch platform in the coming days and weeks," says Prof. Dr. Jörg Blankenbach, the head of the Geodetic Institute at RWTH Aachen University. "The new platform offers the opportunity to establish a participatory approach between the population and science. We are sure that together with citizens we will discover exciting new – especially local – research topics," adds Dr Stefan Herlé, the project manager at the Geodetic Institute.

If you are now curious and would like to use the app yourself on your next walk through the city or on your next hike, you can install it now for free. The app is available for iOS and Android.

For more information go to

  Logo Wissenschaftsjahr 2022 – Nachgefragt

The 'Wissenschaftsjahr 2022 – Nachgefragt!' invites citizens to pose their own personal questions to science and thus provide impetus for potential future fields and future research projects. After all, science and research permeate all areas of our lives. Whether it's the growing importance of algorithms in everyday life or the impact of our lifestyles on the global climate: Society is facing major challenges at the beginning of the 21st century. In order to master these together and actively shape our society, engaging with research findings and contributing our own perspectives are crucial.

The Science Years are an initiative of the BMBF together with 'Wissenschaft im Dialog' (WiD). For 22 years, they have supported the exchange between research and society as a central instrument of science communication.