This project will be carried out by a consortium consisting of 14 partners, namely, University of Sheffield (project coordinator), Middlesex University, Knowledge Now Limited and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (United Kingdom); UNESCO-IHE, Disdrometrics and HydroLogic Research Delft (The Netherlands); École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and SensorScope (Switzerland); Advanticsys and StarLab (Spain); Quinary SpA and Autorita’ di Bacino dei fiumi Isonzo, Tagliamento, Livenza, Piave, Brenta-Bacchiglione (Italy); and SoftwareMind (Poland).
In order to harness environmental data and knowledge to effectively and efficiently manage water resources, WeSenseIt will develop a citizen observatory of water which will allow citizens and communities to take on a new role in the information chain: a shift from the traditional one-way communication paradigm towards a two-way communication model in which citizens become active stakeholders in information capturing, evaluation and communication. The key aspect of WeSenseIt is the direct involvement of user communities in the data collection process: WeSenseIt enables citizen involvement by collecting data via an innovative combination of easy-to-use sensors and monitoring technologies as well as harnessing citizens’ collective intelligence, i.e. the information, experience and knowledge embodied within individuals and communities.
The citizen observatory of water will be tested and validated in three case studies in water management in collaboration with water management and civil protection agencies in the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. These case studies cover the entire hydrologic cycle with a major focus on variables responsible for flood and drought occurrences.
Description of PhD research
The PhD project will entail social science research in order to ensure the resonance of the technological developments of the project with the governance and stakeholder context within which they take place. Moreover, true participation in water governance requires active involvement of the public in water-related planning and decision-making and as such relies on communication and knowledge exchange. Consequently, the PhD study will investigate the nature, extent and boundaries of citizen observatory contributions to improved knowledge flows and their implications for water governance in different European contexts. The PhD study will therefore address the following questions:
- What are the institutional setting and governance contexts within which the citizen observatory will be embedded (with specific emphasis on the governance regimes pertaining to the focal areas of the project, namely floods, droughts and water quality, for the three countries in which the case studies will take place, i.e. The Netherlands, the UK and Italy)
- To what extent and how are information and knowledge exchanges mediated by the citizen observatory?
- How do these knowledge flows affect and change governance processes in terms of participation (as well as other 'good governance' characteristics) as perceived by the different stakeholders?
The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Uta Wehn de Montalvo and Prof. Guy Alaerts (both UNESCO-IHE). The research will be carried out at the premises of UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, and will involve fieldwork at the three case study locations of the project (Italy, UK, The Netherlands).
The PhD position is funded by a fellowship, the expected starting date is 17 September 2012 and the duration of the project is 4 years.
The candidate should have:
- a Masters degree (average mark: 80% or above) in a discipline relevant to the topic (e.g. ICT and society, water governance, knowledge management)
- a strong interest in, and sound experience with, conducting empirical social science and interdisciplinary research (incl. diverse data collection methodologies and strong analytical skills)
- high proficiency in English (written and spoken); additional language skills in Italian and Dutch would be an advantage
- excellent communication skills and willingness to work as part of a team
- motivation to work in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment
Applications in English, including curriculum vitae, the names and contact details of three contactable referees, and a motivation letter should be sent by email (as one PDF file) to Ms. Jos Bult (firstname.lastname@example.org, secretary of the Integrated Water Systems and Governance Department). Please mention 'PhD application WeSenseIt project' in the subject line.
The deadline for applications is 31 July 2012 (closing date). Short-listed candidates will be contacted by 24 August 2012.
The newly created Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance provides post-graduate education and training in the areas of water management and hydroinformatics to professionals with backgrounds in engineering, the natural and social sciences and management, carries out research in these fields and supports the development of education and research capacity in universities and other knowledge centres in developing countries and countries in transition.