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Open Air Laboratories: Community Environment Report

Over the past five years, more than half a million people have taken part in a huge citizen science project - led by Imperial College London - designed to inspire people to discover more about the outdoor environment in which they live and work, record information and share their findings.The Open Air Laboratories project (OPAL) has seen over 25,000 sites studied across England; in many cases, the surveys providing a first look at places – particularly urban areas of deprivation – that had never before been sampled by scientists.50% of OPAL participants were carrying out a nature survey for the very first time, and the project was particularly successful at engaging new and hard-to-reach audiences who would not usually participate in natural history societies or activities.Preliminary results from the huge, Big Lottery-funded, project were presented in a Community Environment Report, launched at the House of Lords on 21 January and published the following day.Four Colman Getty’s campaigning team has worked on a number of science engagement projects, exhibitions and festivals in recent years and has a keen interest in the power of citizen and crowd-sourced science. Therefore, we were delighted to be asked by the Natural History Museum, an OPAL partner and former FCG client, to lead on the PR for the publication of the OPAL report.During an intensive, four-week period of activity, we secured some terrific pieces of coverage about OPAL and the report. Highlights included a half-page article in The Observer, an in-depth piece on BBC News online and a photo gallery, showcasing OPAL participants, on Guardian.co.uk.We also brought on board the studio team here at Four, who edited OPAL footage into an illuminating film about the project, which was screened at the House of Lords, and is available to view online.

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