GSoC 2021 project idea 15.2: AutSPACEs: a co-created citizen science platform

AutSPACEs is a co-created, participatory, citizen-science platform which will be used to investigate how sensory processing differences affect the daily experiences of autistic people. By collecting together diverse real-world experiences, contributed by autistic citizen scientists, we will build a dataset which can be used to make recommendations to improve autistic people’s lives. The platform will also provide a safe and inclusive space to share stories, strategies, and build a community of contributors, which will be facilitated by a community-led, co-created moderation process and code of conduct. Supported by extensive research, and the collaborative input of autistic people and their families, we are currently building up a working prototype.

Integral to the platform is a fine-grained consent model which allows users to specify who they would like their data to be shared with, and for what purposes. The platform will also grant each user dynamic control of their data. This is supported by integration with a backend infrastructure provided by Open Humans. Open Humans is a foundation which enables research participants to have awareness and understanding of, as well as an agency over, their own data. Supporting data agency and transparent data management is critical to the platform’s design.

In summary, AutSPACEs enables rich, scalable, community-led research to be conducted in a way that is both transparent and encourages agency. Furthermore, as an openly licensed and publicly documented research tool, others can freely re-use, build on or adapt it to investigate other research questions.

Technical details

The platform is being built openly on GitHub. Data, documentation, details, and community recommendations, as well as supporting documents, protocols, and more, are all publicly available on our project management repository. The platform development takes place in a separate, linked repository: AutSPACEs using the Python/Django web development framework. Users will be able to share experiences through a website, which will then be deposited into a backend database supported by Open Humans. All stages of the project are being conducted in collaboration with autistic people, and we are committed to being open and transparent throughout.

GSoC project plan

We are seeking a GSOC mentee with web development skills to work on building the platform with a researcher and an experienced developer. This will involve elements of UX/UI design focussing on the needs and preferences of autistic collaborators. We are able to offer a unique opportunity for a GSOC mentee to grow their technical proficiency and collaborative skills in the context of innovative, impact-focussed research. We will provide our mentee with a firm grounding in the emerging best practices of open source development and research. They will also be welcomed into the The Turing Way community. Depending on their preferences and interests, they will be invited to join the The Turing Way community who are building an open source book to improve data science practices, to work with autistic collaborators on participatory design, and to help promote the platform to onboard new developers.

Expected outcome

Over the course of the 10 week period, we expect the mentee to progress the prototype through web development and design and to work with autistic community members to implement search and moderation processes.

Required skills

  • Basic version control using GitHub
  • Python
  • Test-driven development
  • Skills or interests in UI/UX design
  • Basic web development: ability to design and develop new web links and pages
  • Clear, concise, and responsive communication and documentation
  • Respect for, and the ability to work with, diverse collaborators.

Optional skills

  • Django
  • Containers, docker
  • Continuous integration
  • Deployment and hosting
  • Lived experience of autism

Possible mentors

Tags: GitHub, Python, Django, UI/UX design, web development

Apologies to some viewers!!

This is the link to the project github.

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This is a very brilliant proposal at the Incf’s helm, to enable Technology for autism affected.
Hope students come and watch this space.
Is the GitHub repo currently the single source of knowledge or are there any documentational handbooks too?

Hi Georgia and James, this project is very interesting to me as a python developer and mental health advocate. Thanks for posting the repo and look forward to further discussions with you regarding the project : )

Hi everyone! I’m sorry that I haven’t been checking here very well!

I just wanted to let @malin know that Anushka is working on a full application in collaboration with me. I’m delighted to work with her and keeping fingers crossed that we’ll have a slot for GSOC :smiley_cat:

Thanks for the notice! I’d recommend you to post a draft to the portal as soon as you have something reasonable; you can update it until deadline.

Thanks Malin! Would it be ok for Anouskha to send you a copy of her application for you to check over? What’s the best way to send it to you?

Email is fine ( or just sharing a google doc.

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