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Call for Application - Development of Smartphone Applications for Citizen Science Data Collection


  • Organization: UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Location: Johannesburg
  • Grade: Consultancy - Consultant - Contractors Agreement
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Statistics
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Scientist and Researcher
  • Closing Date: Closed

Parent Sector : Field Office

Duty Station: Johannesburg

Job Family: Natural Sciences

Type of contract : Consultancy

Duration of contract : From 1 to 6 months

Recruitment open to : External candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 14-JUN-2023


UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism






Development of Smartphone Applications for Citizen Science Data Collection in South Africa  


A. Project Background


UNESCO is implementing a project on “Addressing Climate Risk and Building Adaptive Capacity in South Africa’s Biosphere Reserves: Towards Sustainable Water and Ecosystem Management” with the objective of enabling pilot areas in South Africa to develop effective ecosystem-based and gender responsive adaptation pathways to climate change using a bottom-up, participatory approach. 


As part of the project, there is a focus on active engagement of communities in the target areas through Citizen Science, by using local data collection as a driver for education on climate risks and climate change. In addition, real-time Internet of Things-based weather stations, water level, and water quality sensors will be set up in the biosphere reserves to enhance the collection of hydro-meteorological data in the biosphere reserves.  This will allow the piloting of blending Citizen Science field surveys with real-time meteorological station networks.


In this context, UNESCO seeks to engage an institute or company to expand the develop smartphone application for citizen science data collection in all target areas namely Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, Groot-Marico Biosphere Reserve and Vhembe Biosphere Reserve. The smartphone application function needs to allow easy data collection, sharing, and flexible reporting.  In particular, the company/firm will accomplish the following tasks:

Long Description


B. Tasks


1)    Set up two instances of citizen science data collection on the smartphone application, for the Vhembe Biosphere and Groot Marico Biosphere Reserves
a.    Engage with the Vhembe Biosphere and Groot Marico Biosphere Reserves to finalize the data collection protocols
b.    Tailor the data collection and GIS system and database to collect and store the required data fields and elements (e.g geolocated photographs, input fields)
c.    Tailor the developed smartphone application for each of the two Biosphere Reserves, allowing for differential input depending on the agreed protocol
d.    Tailor the visualization environment to visualize the data collection from citizen scientists in the two Biosphere Reserves
e.    Support the two Biosphere Reserves to ensure all data is collected and accessible from the backend and frontend visualization


2)    Provide further support to the existing biosphere reserves that utilise the developed functional smartphone application, namely the Kruger to Canyons, and Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve in their implementation of the citizen science data collection 
a.    Provide further physical and online training on data collection tools to the Kruger to Canyons and Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve
b.    Support the two Biosphere Reserves, Kruger to Canyons and Cape Winelands to ensure all data is collected and accessible from the backend and frontend visualization

Long Description


3)    Enhance user experience: By incorporating live data from an Internet of Things-based weather station, water level, and water quality sensors, the application can deliver timely and useful information to the users in a user-friendly way, enhancing their overall experience.
a.    Integrate data from the real-time data from the IoT-based sensors into the application 
b.    Set up a user-friendly dashboard to view the collected data.
c.    Enable users to download the collected data in excel/CSV format 


4)    Provide training on the tool developed and transfer the system to an independent server
a.    Update and provide training materials on the different tools and software packages used
b.    Provide two training sessions to a set of stakeholders identified by UNESCO on the different tools
i.    Physical and online training on the use of the software for all the Biosphere Reserves
ii.    Physical and online training on the setup and management of the software packages on the server
c.    Setup of the system on an independent server to be provided by UNESCO based on the specifications provided by the developer

Long Description


C.    Deliverables

  The contractor shall submit the following deliverables to UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa;

a.    A work plan with a detailed timetable for delivering targets in consultation with UNESCO;
b.    Set up mobile apps for all four biosphere reserves as requested in tasks (1) & (2) including the incorporation of the Internet of Things in task (3)
c.    The reports for the 3-month trial for the developed apps in the four Biosphere Reserves respectively 
d.    The reports for the extended support during the duration of the application implementation in the four Biosphere Reserves respectively
e.    The developed training materials and the report for the training sessions as described in task (4)

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial) Accountability (C) Communication (C) Innovation (C) Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C) Planning and organizing (C) Results focus (C) Teamwork (C) Professionalism (C) - For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS


•    Technical expertise: The company should have extensive experience in developing mobile applications, particularly those that require server-based GIS and offline data entry modes. They should have expertise in the relevant programming languages, as well as experience with GIS software, database management, and data visualization tools.
•    Required qualification:  The lead person is required to have at least a Master’s degree in Computer sciences/natural sciences or equivalent.
•    Project management experience: The company should have experience managing the development of software projects, including requirements gathering, project planning, and execution. They should be able to manage timelines and budgets effectively and have experience working with stakeholders and clients to ensure project success.
•    User-centered design experience: The company should have experience designing user-centered interfaces that are intuitive and easy to use. They should have a strong understanding of user experience and be able to tailor the application to the specific needs of the target audience.
•    Experience with agile development methodologies: The company should have experience working with agile development methodologies. They should be able to adapt to changing requirements and priorities and be able to deliver working software in short iterations.
•    Years of experience:  The lead person is required to at least have 5 years of experience in  creating similar applications and this would be an added advantage.



  • To enable social learning among citizen scientists, an implementation partner with experience in developing a platform similar to WhatsApp will be an added advantage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • A Southern African-based implementation partner would be an added advantage. This partner will work closely with the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa to ensure the objectives of this project are met.


The contract will run for 6 months from the date of signing the contract



Interested entities are to submit applications in two phases through Success Factor application portal, attaching documents i.e Cover letter, CVs of team members, technical proposal, financial proposal and references from previous clients, and through email at  


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.


UNESCO recalls that paramount consideration in the appointment of staff members shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, technical competence and integrity. UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of harassment. UNESCO is committed to achieving and sustaining equitable and diverse geographical distribution, as well as gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Candidates from non- and under-represented Member States (last update here) are particularly welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals from minority groups and indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.

This vacancy is now closed.
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