Integrated evaluation of sensor data streams and field observations


Many phenomena in our environment are extremely complex and cannot simply be captured via sensors. Additional field observations are often indispensable. This project uses two case studies to examine how sensor data and field observations can be combined and evaluated.

Portrait / project description (ongoing research project)

Understanding complex phenomena in our environment requires more than capturing and analysing large quantities of data via sensors. Additional field observations are often indispensable. By means of two case studies, we will combine and conduct an integrated evaluation of, first, sensor data that is limited in terms of accuracy, and, second, field observations that are precise but often only selectively available. In the first case we will develop a dual recording system of this type in order to carry out a comprehensive analysis of soil erosion events in the Alps. In the second case we will integrate pre-existing sensor and field observation data to gain a better understanding of the mass movement of migratory birds.


Analysing sensor data streams is essential for better understanding many phenomena in our environment. However, because automatic evaluation of these data streams is limited, their complex interconnections often remain hidden. The present project will develop new processes for combining a large quantity of not very accurate sensor data with precise but selective field observations and analysing them in an integrated way. The selective information increasingly originates from non-specialists, who document relevant observations and complement existing data sources.


The aim of the project is to develop processes for collecting, combining and evaluating comprehensive sensor data and selective field observations. Two case studies will (a) achieve a better understanding of erosion processes and (b) improve the forecasting of spatial and temporal migration patterns of bird species. 


Developing new methods of recording, integrating and analysing heterogeneous data streams and selective field observations will lead to new knowledge in the environmental sciences. The first case study will improve our understanding of alpine ecosystems, which are of great relevance to biodiversity and the water balance. The second case study will enable us to use better knowledge of annual bird migrations to answer questions about the responsible use of wind energy and how migratory birds spread diseases.

Original title

weObserve: Integrating Citizen Observers and High Throughput Sensing Devices for Big Data Collection, Integration, and Analysis

Project leaders

  • Prof. Volker Roth, Fachbereich Informatik, Departement Mathematik und Informatik, Universität Basel
  • Dr. Felix Liechti, Schweizerische Vogelwarte Sempach
  • Prof. Heiko Schuldt, Fachbereich Informatik, Departement Mathematik und Informatik, Universität Basel
  • Prof. Christine Alewell, Institut für Umweltgeowissenschaften, Universität Basel



Further information on this content


Prof. Volker Roth Fachbereich Informatik Departement Mathematik und Informatik
Universität Basel
Spiegelgasse 1 4051 Basel

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