Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Making Sense Report Summary

Project ID: 688620
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Making Sense (Making Sense)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The rapid growth of Fablabs and other maker spaces is creating 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 behaviours.

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 aims to add to the available data and understanding, and contribute to a healthier and cleaner environment.

Making Sense aligns five partners, being Dundee University, Institute of Advanced Architecture Cataluña, Joint Research Center, Peer Educators Network & Waag Society as well as several dozens of local collaborators, in addressing this goal. Together, they will show 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 will develop a Making Sense Toolkit based on the Smart Citizen platform for bottom up citizen science, developed at Fablab Barcelona. It will be developed and tested in nine pilots in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Pristina.

Starting from October 2015, Making Sense will
- Develop a Making Sense toolkit, based on the existing Smart Citizen platform for bottom up citizen science, developed at Fab Lab Barcelona. It consists of hardware, software, guidelines and best practices.
- Develop a framework for a participatory approach to environmental maker practices. It shows how to provide citizens and communities with appropriate ICT and social tools to enhance their everyday environmental awareness, enable active intervention in their surroundings, and change their individual and collective practices. ]
- Develop and evaluate a scientifically informed framework for citizen co-inquiry and action towards hands-on transformation of their surroundings
- Disseminate the results to an audience of engaged citizens, researchers, policy makers and businesses, inviting them to use and build on our findings.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Currently, we are half-way through the project. Amongst the achievements to date are:
- Connecting to local communites and running two pilots in Amsterdam: Urban AirQ and Smart Kids Lab; one in Pristina: Science for Change, and having started one in Barcelona: Smart We have planned the five upcoming pilots in the next project period: one in Amsterdam, two in Pristina and two in Barcelona,
- Collaborating with several ‘official’ institutes on local and national level (f.e. Royal Institute for National Health, National Meteorological Office, local Health Agency in Amsterdam)
- Developing the Smart Citizen Platform and releasing v1.5 of the Smart Citizen Kit at Fablab Barcelona and developing a new open source sensor kit at Fablab Amsterdam
- Producing high-quality resources for the Making Sense Toolkit , encompassing technical documentation, mapping of best practices, engagement workshop formats, community level indicators, and more,
- Producing of two scientific publications and 23 popular articles, five of which were audiovisual in nature
- Feature in the VPRO Tegenlicht television documentary (national broadcasting station in NL) reaching 500.000+ viewers
- Participating in three internationally acclaimed conferences and running eleven workshops from hands-on technical sessions to critical design interventions, for example at the integrated Making Sense workshop at Design & The City in Amsterdam (April 2016), Resilient Cities – Smart Citizens in Rio de Janeiro (May 2016) and the Make the Future of Sensing at Fab12 in Shenzhen (August 2016). Total outreach: 990 participants.
- Delivering 23 talks and presentations to the broader audience reaching 2785 attendants.

Meanwhile, we have developed several transversal aspects that are building the foundations for our methodological approach towards the creation of Making Sense as a robust Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation. The key elements we laid down in the Proposal for an Open Manifesto for Making Sense. They include:

1. Focus first on the needs and concerns of the local citizens and their communities.
2. Facilitate the transition of citizens from being passive downloaders of data to active uploaders of action.
3. Don't push technology just because you can, but still prototype fast and early.
4. Standardize tools for documentation, data collection and reporting as soon as possible, but also explore and iterate alternative ways to visualize and use this data.
5. Build ownership and trust with communities.
6. Always consider social, cultural, economic and political asymmetries.
7. Explore all social spaces and possible media channels for community engagement.
8. Celebrate the diversity between your partners and testbed contexts.
9. Expand and enrich the project teams over time, considering possible forks and spin-offs.
10. Build new governance models.

These key elements will be applied and further developed in the coming pilots. All preparations are well underway and we look forward to the coming year with confidence.

Any questions are more than welcome; please contact Marc Boonstra ( or Frank Kresin (

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Above we listed our main achievements. Of these we find the following beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact:

- In our collaboraton with several ‘official’ institutes the Amsterdam Smart Citizen Lab (ASCL) has become an essential centre of expertise that the Royal Institute for National Health (RIVM) relates to when developing their Citizen Science program.

- Fablab Amsterdam has built a new NOX sensor that was validated and approved by the National Meteorological Office (KNMI).

- Feature in the VPRO Tegenlicht television documentary (national broadcasting station in NL) reaching 500.000+ viewers featuring Mara Balestrini (IAAC)

- Realise the Resilient Cities – Smart Citizens program in Rio de Janeiro (May 2016) and the Make the Future of Sensing at Fab12 in Shenzhen (August 2016) as spin-offs of the Making Sense project.

- Propose a Open Manifesto for Making Sense

- Tree WIFI: the Urban AirQ pilot in Amsterdam inspired a commercial start-up.

- Interest has been shown from Georgia, Taiwan, Stavanger to run Making Sense pilots

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