OceanSpaces: Innovative Tools to Build Trust and Promote Science-Informed Decisions

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
James G. Wicker, California Ocean Science Trust, Oakland, CA
The need to make decisions about finite natural resources is universal in our society. Governments, organizations, and citizens all contribute to decisions on how best to steward and manage our resources, and those decisions benefit from integrating the best available science. Science-informed decisions within any domain hinge on two basic needs - access and trust. OceanSpaces is a diverse online community dedicated to the vision of healthy and productive oceans through science-informed management and stewardship. While bridging traditional boundaries between science, citizens, and government, OceanSpaces provides the science needed to inform decisions on resource management for California’s coast and ocean. OceanSpaces is an innovator by presenting science as a “purchasable” product. Familiarity is key to the basic needs of access and trust. It is shown to influence trust itself, and the decision to purchase. A decision-maker can use OceanSpaces to enhance familiarity with science through a transparent and impartial presentation of information. The community aspect of OceanSpaces allows decision-makers to access and interact directly with individuals and organizations at every level of scientific monitoring – government agencies designing monitoring plans, scientists collecting monitoring data, and concerned citizens accessing the results. OceanSpaces presents a rare opportunity to put a face and name on science, thereby creating a relationship between the decision-maker and the data providers. The intended result of this process is greater familiarity. This leads to an increased probability to “buy”; meaning interact with the science, agree it is rigorous and trustworthy, and use that science in decisions. OceanSpaces’ goals are shaped by this model and aim to bring together a diverse and engaged audience to develop a deeper understanding of the science related to ocean health. Through shared understanding and acceptance of the science, decision-makers have a common basis for informed decisions. This site model has yielded over 800 members, with over 30 scientific monitoring projects, 48 groups and organizations, and 113 data packages. OceanSpaces science also played a pivotal role in the Central Coast adaptive management process. By continuing to cultivate a diverse community and present science through a transparent and impartial process we can increase the trust of science presented on OceanSpaces, thereby increasing the probability of “purchase” and science-informed decision-making within our society.