Verksamhetsberättelse 2020/Story: Exploring ways to activate people in a physical activity without meeting each other

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In this Story we are focusing on how we had to find ways to encourage people to participate in our activities during the pandemic. We succeeded by changing how we communicated and by building tools that enhanced our messages.

To help Wiki Loves Earth contributors find protected natural areas located close around them, we build a map tool that displays data from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to rethink many of our planned activities. One example of that was the Wiki Loves Earth campaign. While Sweden never, unlike many countries, enacted forced lockdown measures, long-distance movement was discouraged and larger gatherings and events forbidden. At the same time, it was our conviction that Wiki Loves Earth could provide meaning in a difficult time, a conviction that seemingly was shared by participants.

In order to make it possible for us to run the campaign, while adhering to recommendations and regulations, we chose to focus our communication on visiting local nature: exploring one’s vicinity through the Wiki Loves Earth campaign.

The main obstacle to this focus was the difficulty at the time to find natural heritage sites in one’s vicinity with the existing tools, so we explored possibilities on how to make it easier. We soon realized that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency held data that we could upload on Wikidata, if it would be made available under the right license. We reached out to EPA, and they agreed to re-license several datasets. They also had sets with shapefiles, which we uploaded to Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons. The amount of shapefiles on Wikimedia Commons doubled through the upload, which seems to be the first mass upload of shapefiles to Wikimedia Commons. This is a continuation of the many experimental batch uploads of new types of files to Wikimedia Commons which we focused on during the FindingGLAMs project. We hope that this will prove valuable for other affiliates and that we will be able to support them if they aim to add shapefiles for their local contests.

With the data on Wikidata and the shapefiles on Wikimedia Commons, we could develop a map tool that showed all natural sites in one’s vicinity, and whether they already had a photo on Wikidata (and thereby Wikipedia) or not. The tool had two benefits: it visualized the value of such a batch upload and it helped newcomers see where they could contribute with new images.

The map tool, and the slightly changed focus of the campaign, seems to have been a success. The turnout this year was more than 1,000 photos higher than last year, and the number of participants – both experienced and newcomers – rose sharply as well. We managed to lower the barriers, which was one important aim, and at the same time, we managed to encourage people to explore the local vicinity in a time where their possibility to travel was limited.

For us, it was more important to implement the tool than to make it perfect. It seems like that sufficed, as the goal of lowering barriers was fulfilled. The coding behind it is all available on Github, and we would happily help answering questions from other chapters and affiliates, interested in doing something similar.