The raise of Fablabs and other maker spaces is creating new opportunities for citizen-driven innovation in domains ranging from open hardware to digital fabrication, community informatics, and participatory sensing.

In the past five years, the broad availability of open hardware tools, the creation of online data sharing platforms, and access to maker spaces have fostered the design of low-cost and open-source sensors that citizens can appropriate to engage in environmental action. By collectively measuring and making sense of their environment, citizens can become aware of how their lifestyle affects the ecosystem and be inspired to adopt more sustainable behaviour.

Official bodies typically measure environmental qualities with sparse networks of high quality sensors, and the resulting data are analysed to inform policy and regulations. At the same time, with the exception of extreme cases like smog pollution, citizens tend to be unaware of the health threats that they are subjected to on a daily basis.

Moreover, they lack the means to act on their own behalf. By encouraging and enabling the creation of bottom-up sensor networks, and sharing the resulting data and knowledge, the EU-funded project Making Sense aimed to add to the available data and understanding, and contribute to a healthier and cleaner environment.

Toolkit

Making Sense showed how open-source software, open-source hardware, digital maker practices and open design can be used by local communities to make sense of their environments. It developed a Citizen Sensing toolkit for bottom-up citizen science.

Amsterdam pilots

  1. Urban Airq
  2. Smart Kids Lab
  3. Making sense of gamma radiation

Based on these pilots, we developed a framework for participatory environmental maker practices. It shows how to provide citizens and communities with tools to enhance their everyday environmental awareness, to enable active intervention in their surroundings, and to change their individual and collective practices.

Stakeholders and funding

Making Sense ran from November 2015 to the end of 2017. The consortium consisted of Waag (Lead partner - Netherlands), University of Dundee (UK), Peer Educators Network and Science for Change (Kosovo), Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia – IAAC (Spain), and the EU Joint Research Centre (Belgium).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 688620.

Thumbnail

Related articles

Past events

25
Oct
2018
18:00
20:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Premiere documentary: a Citizen Science Revolution

8
Mar
2018
18:30
21:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizens Lab: citizen science crash course

20
Dec
2017
18:00
21:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizens Lab workshop #3: measuring air quality during fireworks

14
Nov
2017
09:00
09:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Workshop citizen science

24
Sept
2017
25
Sept
2017
Smart Citizens Lab

Workshop 'Citizen Data and Official Statistics'

1
Jul
2017
09:00
15:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Making Sense @ SPARK Makers event

23
Jun
2017
11:30
11:30
Smart Citizens Lab

reSITE 2017: In/visible City

19
May
2017
07:00
07:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Workshop measuring radiation #3 Maastricht

12
May
2017
13:45
14:15
Smart Citizens Lab

Citizen science, making sense

3
May
2017
17:00
17:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #6: Young agents of change

2
May
2017
15:15
18:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Turn your laptop into a nuclear sensor!

21
Apr
2017
07:00
09:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Workshop measuring radiation #2 Eindhoven

29
Mar
2017
16:30
16:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #5: Measuring the environment

17
Mar
2017
09:30
11:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Workshop measuring radiation #1 Bergen op Zoom

18
Jan
2017
18:30
18:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #4: The i-City

19
Dec
2016
18:30
18:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #3: Lessons from smart Amsterdam

7
Dec
2016
11:00
15:45
Smart Citizens Lab

Symposium 'Measuring air quality'

2
Dec
2016
10:00
12:00
Smart Citizens Lab

ThingsCon Smart Citizen workshop

1
Dec
2016
12:00
17:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizens in Smarter Cities

22
Oct
2016
13:00
13:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Waag @ Dutch Design Week 2016

12
Oct
2016
20
Oct
2016
Creative Learning Lab

Cinekid 2016: Smart Kids Lab

6
Oct
2016
06:00
16:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Nordic Edge

20
Aug
2016
07:30
07:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Basement Festival Sao Paulo

8
Jul
2016
14:30
14:30
Smart Citizens Lab

Thingscon Salon #4 Eindhoven

22
Jun
2016
16:00
19:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Crash Course #3: water quality

21
Jun
2016
16:00
19:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Crash Course #2: noise pollution

20
Jun
2016
16:00
19:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Crash Course #1: air quality

30
May
2016
08:00
10:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #2: kickstart smart

27
May
2016
13:30
14:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Making Sense of the City @ #CPEU4

22
Apr
2016
06:00
06:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Making Sense: Advances and Explorations in Participatory Sensing

21
Apr
2016
17:00
17:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Smart Citizen Talks #1: Making Sense of the smart city

7
Apr
2016
16:30
19:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Amsterdam Smart Citizens Lab 2016 MeetUp #1

30
Mar
2016
16:30
19:00
Smart Citizens Lab

Urban AirQ kick-off