Ground Penetrating Radar

The first peer-reviewed scientific journal dedicated to GPR

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Ground Penetrating Radar 2019, Volume 2, Issue 1, GPR-2-1-4,   https://doi.org/10.26376/GPR2019004


TU1208 GPR Roadshow: Educational and promotional activities carried out by Members of COST Action TU1208 to increase public awareness on the potential and capabilities of the GPR technique

Lara Pajewski, Hannes Tõnisson, Kaarel Orviku, Miro Govedarica, Aleksandar Ristić, Vladislav Borecky, Salih Serkan Artagan, Simona Fontul, and Klisthenis Dimitriadis


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Abstract:   Our participation in the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) programme gave us significant insights into the importance of explaining scientific findings to non-scientific audiences. In the framework of COST Action TU1208 “Civil engineering applications of Ground Penetrating Radar” we organised a series of dissemination activities to increase public awareness about ground penetrating radar (GPR) capabilities and applications, as well as to establish a dialogue with stakeholders and end-users of our research. Most of our educational and promotional activities were carried out in less-research intensive countries of the European continent, and we denominated the overall science communication initiative “TU1208 GPR Roadshow”. The purpose of this paper is to present descriptions, principles, and results of our Roadshow. Part of the Roadshow consisted of a series of non-scientific workshops and practical demonstrations held in Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic from March 2016 to May 2017. The primary objective of those events was to reach out to GPR stakeholders and potential new end users, at local, regional and national levels; a secondary goal was the education of interested students and citizens. Attendance was always free of charge; talks and explanations were mostly given in native language, with few exceptions. Overall, the Roadshow workshops and demonstrations had 483 participants. In parallel, an amazing series of activities with children and citizens were carried out in Estonia: several lectures were delivered in elementary and secondary schools, practical workshops were held during the Researchers’ Nights, communication activities were organized in large events where enterprises were brought together with researchers, some lectures were given in summer schools, and short lectures were transmitted on public TV. All these initiatives have strongly increased public awareness of the potentialities of the GPR technique.


Keywords:  Ground penetrating radar; science communication; public knowledge about science and technology; dissemination and outreach; scientific training.


Introduction

Researchers are rather confused about what science communication is, and they often underestimate its importance. Science communication mostly is about communicating with nonexperts, whereas many researchers stay in their ‘ivory tower’ and talk to colleagues within their specialist area, only. The communication strategy of researchers normally includes the presentation of activities and results in scientific conferences, publication of scientific papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and publication of scientific books and book chapters; the youngest researchers spread information about their studies on academic social networking sites, as well. If scientists wish to maximize the impact of their activities and receive more funding, it is imperative that they step out of their usual arenas and start communicating science to a broader audience; they need to establish a dialogue with stakeholders and end users of their research, and also with citizens of different ages and education levels. Nowadays there is a huge amount of research going on, on really important topics, that actually never really gets to policymakers, professional groups or commercialization; at the same time, too many citizens do not understand how important science is for society, how research is crucial for finding concrete solutions to global challenges, and how creating new knowledge and improving education is essential for increasing the quality of our lives.

A contemporary definition of science communication is given by Burns et al. [1] as the employment of proper abilities, actions, media, and dialogue to provide at least one of the following individual reactions to science (with the AEIOU vowel analogy): Awareness, Enjoyment, Interest, Opinion-forming, and Understanding. Science communication is a multifaceted subject which covers a range of issues from dissemination of scientific research to new models of public involvement where lay persons are supported to take part in science discussions and policy; and it attracts increasing consideration from research institutions, policy makers, practitioners and academicians [2].

To encourage science communication initiatives, the European Union (EU) is requiring that a comprehensive communication plan be included in all Horizon 2020 project proposals (as is well known, Horizon 2020 is the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014-2020) [3, 4]. Moreover, Horizon 2020 is launching dedicated calls for communication projects. The EU has recently prepared a “Guide to Science Communication” consisting of a series of short videos about science communication in general, with several tips on ‘how to improve your communication efforts,’ and a 60-minutes video on ‘how to increase the communication impact of your research project’ (all those videos are available on the European Commission “Innovation Union” YouTube channel). Further useful documents published at European level are the “Social media guide for EU funded R&I projects” [5] and the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) HelpDesk brochure “Making the Most of Your H2020 Project” [6].

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) researchers are not different from researchers working in other scientific areas when it comes to science communication behaviour; and yet, given the vast application potential of the GPR technique, there is so much that can be shared with multiple interlocutors and at different levels. Our participation in Horizon 2020 via the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action TU1208 “Civil engineering applications of Ground Penetrating Radar” gave us significant insights into the importance of explaining scientific findings to non-scientific audiences. We decided to put efforts into increasing public awareness about GPR capabilities and applications, as well as into establishing a dialogue with stakeholders and end-users of our research. We therefore organized a heterogeneous series of educational and promotional activities that were mostly carried out in less-research intensive countries of the European continent (Inclusiveness Target Countries [7]); the overall science communication initiative was denominated “TU1208 GPR Roadshow”.

This paper aims to present some descriptions, principles, and results of our Roadshow. It has to be noted that the Roadshow activities were entirely organized by researchers, sometimes in cooperation with private GPR service providers. When we started, we were totally unaware about science communication methods and strategies, most of us did not even know the meaning of the word ‘stakeholder’ and had never made a serious thought on who the ‘end users’ of their research were [8]. Therefore, the Roadshow activities represented our first steps in the ‘world of science communication.’ Nonetheless, the initiative was undoubtedly a big success; it raised considerable interest in various countries and was a catalyst for a series of new activities.

Part of the Roadshow consisted in a series of communication events held in Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic from March 2016 to May 2017 [9, 10]; the route of the Roadshow events is illustrated in Figure 1(a). The primary purpose of these events was to reach out to GPR stakeholders and potential new end users, at local, regional and national levels; a secondary goal was the education of interested students and citizens. The events organized in the various countries are presented as separate case studies in Sections 2-7 of this paper. Attendance was always free of charge, for all participants; the talks and explanations were mostly given in native language, with few exceptions. Overall, 483 participants attended the events and had the opportunity to learn what is GPR, how this technique can be used for ‘seeing the unseen,’ and what is the role of GPR in civil engineering works, archaeological investigations, and cultural heritage management (we mainly focused on these fields of application because the COST Action TU1208 project dealt with the use of GPR in civil-engineering). In our events, we also stressed how GPR profiling is a safe, environment-friendly, and non-destructive method of investigation. Feedback was collected after the events; participants expressed strong satisfaction, most often they asked us to organize further dissemination activities if not to establish a regular series of events, to be held annually or every few months, in order to keep the dialogue active and receive regular updates on the GPR research.
















 

             (a)                                                                                                            (b)

Figure 1: (a) Route of TU1208 GPR Roadshow communication events. (b) Map of Estonia, with blue dots indicating the locations of our numerous educational activities and events (the base satellite map is taken from the website of the Republic of Estonia Land Board).


In parallel, a series of promotional and educational activities were carried out in Estonia, which brought especially positive and tangible results; these activities are resumed in Section 8 and their numerous locations are shown in Figure 1(b). Estonia is a small and relatively young independent country, where many fields of research are making the first steps; moreover, the profession of the scientific researcher is not much acknowledged and popular among the students. GPR is not very commonly used in Estonia and was an almost unknown tool among Estonian people, until a few years ago. To the best of our knowledge, there were only two GPR systems in Estonia when COST Action TU1208 started, both of them owned by research groups working in the university; those groups were mostly employing GPR in the fields of geology, ecology, and archaeology. Now things are changing: there is an increasing interest in the use of GPR, not only for research but also for practical works in private and public sectors; indeed, the research groups owning GPR systems have reported that they have been recently involved in a growing number of projects ordered by private enterprises or public authorities. We are delighted to say that this phenomenon is most probably the result of the communication efforts made by the researchers from the Institute of Ecology at Tallinn University. A number of lectures delivered in elementary and secondary schools, practical workshops held during the Researchers’ Nights, communication activities in large events where enterprises were brought together with researchers, lectures delivered in summer schools, and even short lectures transmitted on public television channels have all increased public awareness on the potentialities of the GPR technique.


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References

[1] T.W. Burns, D.J. O’Connor, and S.M. Stocklmayer, “Science Communication: A Contemporary Definition,” Public Understanding of Science, vol. 12, pp. 183–202, April 2003, doi: 10.1177/09636625030122004.

[2] T. Bubela, M.C. Nisbet, R. Borchelt, F. Brunger, C. Critchley, E. Einsiedel, G. Geller, A. Gupta, J. Hampel, R. Hyde-Lay, E.W. Jandciu, S.A. Jones, P. Kolopack, S. Lane, T. Lougheed, B. Nerlich, U. Ogbogu, K. O’Riordan, C. Ouellette, M. Spear, S. Strauss, T. Thavaratnam, L. Willemse, and T. Caulfield, “Science communication reconsidered,” Nature Biotechnology, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 514–518, June 2013, doi: 10.1038/nbt0609-514.

[3] Communicating EU research and innovation guidance for project participants, European Commission, Version 1.0, 25 September 2014, 14 pp.

[4] H2020 Programme – Annotated Model Grant Agreement, European Commission, Version 5.0, 3 July 2018, 810 pp.

[5] H2020 Programme – Guidance – Social media guide for EU funded R&I projects, European Commission, Version 1.0, 6 April 2018, 19 pp.

[6] Making the Most of Your H2020 Project – Boosting the impact of your project through effective communication, dissemination and exploitation, The European IPR HelpDesk, March 2018, 36 pp.

[7] COST Vademecum, available at www.cost.eu.

[8] P. Simeoni, L. Pajewski, and F. Frezza, “Strategies for Stakeholders involvement in COST Action TU1208,” Proceedings of the Third Action General Meeting; Edited by: Lara Pajewski; Publishing House: Aracne; Rome, Italy, May 2015; ISBN 978-88-548-8486-1, www.gpradar.eu/resources/books.html.

[9] S. Fontul, L. Pajewski, A. Ristic, and M. Vrtunski, “Road Shows as opportunities for dissemination and promotion of Ground Penetrating Radar use in Inclusiveness Target Countries - COST Action TU1208,” Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 20, 2018, Abstract ID: EGU2018-6957, European Geosciences Union General Assembly – Vienna, Austria, 8-13 April 2018, 1 p.

[10] M. Govedarica, A. Ristic, L. Pajewski, M. Vrtunski, and S. Fontul, “A series of educational and promotional activities within COST Action TU1208 - GPR Roadshow,” Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, 2019, Abstract ID: EGU2019-10619, European Geosciences Union General Assembly – Vienna, Austria, 7-12 April 2019, 1 p.

[11] “Il Notiziario LASSTRE – In questo numero del notiziario si illustrano le ultime attività condotte nell’ambito della COST Action TU1208 “Civil engineering applications of Ground Penetrating Radar” e in particolare la giornata divulgativa sul georadar in ingegneria civile svoltasi presso l’Università degli Studi Roma Tre.” Strade & Autostrade, vol. 4, pp. 2-3, 2016.

[12] M. Muru, A. Rosentau, A. Kriiska, L. Lõugas, U. Kadakas, J. Vassiljev, L. Saarse, R. Aunap, L. Küttim, L. Puusepp, and K. Kihno, “Sea level changes and Neolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers in the centre of Tallinn, southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea,” The Holocene, vol. 27, no. 7, 2017, doi: 10.1177/0959683616678462.


Share & Cite this article

Unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium of this article is permitted, provided the original article is properly cited.   Please cite this article as follows: L. Pajewski, H. Tõnisson, K. Orviku, M. Govedarica, A. Ristić, V. Borecky, S. Serkan Artagan,  S. Fontul, and K. Dimitriadis,  "GPR system performance compliance according to COST Action TU1208 guidelines,"  Ground Penetrating Radar, Volume 2, Issue 1, Article ID GPR-2-1-4, Janaury 2019, pp. 67-109, doi.org/10.26376/GPR2019004.


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For information concerning COST Action TU1208 and TU1208 GPR Association, please take contact with the Chair of the Action and President of the Association, Prof. Lara Pajewski. From 4 April 2013 to 3 October 2017, this website was supported by COST, European Cooperation in Science and Technology - COST is supported by the EU RTD Framework Programme Horizon2020. TU1208 Members are deeply grateful to COST for funding and supporting COST Action TU1208. As of 4 October 2017, this website is supported by TU1208 GPR Association, a non-profit association stemming from COST Action TU1208.


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