#BritainBreathing is an exciting new citizen science project that aims to engage a wide range of the UK population to act as ‘citizen sensors’ to help scientists understand more about seasonal allergies such as hayfever or asthma. Visit the #BritainBreathing website and download the app now on android.
What is the aim of the project?
Approximately one in four people suffer from seasonal allergies such as hayfever and asthma and this incidence is increasing. Different pollens (such as grass or tree pollens) are active at different times of the year and environmental triggers such as pollution or the weather may also impact on symptoms. The aim of this project is to better understand (both on a national scale and for the individual) when allergy symptoms are occurring and what the triggers for these might be.
How are we going to do this?
We have developed a free-to-use app that will allow the public to record their allergy symptoms in a simple and straightforward way and then safely share that data with the project team. This large data set (capturing information on timing and location of allergy symptoms) can then be combined with other publicly available data (such as weather, pollen or pollution statistics) to build a better understanding at a national and personal level of allergy and allergy triggers. From these data, we can build a clearer picture of the pattern and frequency of allergy incidence across the UK.
As this is a citizen science project, we have run a series of workshops with members of the public to help inform the project design, in particular the design of the app and best practice in engaging and maintaining citizen participation throughout the project.
Who is involved in the project?
Members of the working party are as follows:
- Dr John Ainsworth, Farr Institute and Health eResearch Centre, The University of Manchester
- Professor Andy Brass, Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester
- Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester and Public Engagement Trustee, British Society for Immunology
- Dr Jennie Evans, British Society for Immunology
- Dr Lamiece Hassan, Health eResearch Centre, The University of Manchester
- Dr Caroline Jay, Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester
- Dr Markel Vigo, Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester
- Dr Laura Bellingan, Royal Society of Biology
#BritainBreathing is supported as part of the European City of Science citizen science programme and featured as part of the Science in the City festival in Manchester (22-29 July 2016).
Who is funding the project?
Funding to develop the #BritainBreathing app was provided jointly by the British Society for Immunology, The University of Manchester Faculty of Life Sciences, BBSRC Activating Impact award and the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund. Funding for the initial app workshops was provided by a grant awarded to the Health eResearch Centre by the Medical Research Council.