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Making Sense

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Making Sense (Making Sense)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-12-31

This is the final of two annual progress reports whose purpose is to provide the means for the commission and external evaluators to assess the progress and outcomes of the Making Sense project, with particular emphasis on the activities carried out in respect of the contract. This report is intended to be complementary to the work package outputs delivered during the reporting period, which are timed to coincide with the main project milestones and focus on the results obtained.

Making Sense – Project Synopsis
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, 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 six partners, being Dundee University (Scotland), Institute of Advanced Architecture Cataluña (Spain), Joint Research Center (Belgium), Peer Educators Network (Kosovo), University of Twente (Netherlands) & Waag Society (Netherlands) as well as several dozens of local collaborators, in addressing this goal. Together, they 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. The project has developed a Making Sense Toolkit based on the Smart Citizen platform for bottom up citizen science, developed at Fablab Barcelona, that has been (co-)designed and tested in nine pilots in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Pristina.

Starting from October 2015, Making Sense has
1. Developed a Making Sense toolkit, consisting of open source hardware, software, guidelines and best practices;
2. Developed a framework for a participatory approach to environmental maker practices, which will show 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;
3. Developed a scientifically informed framework for citizen co-inquiry and action towards hands-on transformation of their surroundings;
4. Disseminated the results to an audience of engaged citizens, community organisers, researchers, policy makers and businesses, inviting them to use and build on our findings.
As from January 1st of 2018, we have finalized the project. Amongst the achievements to date are:
1. Conducting the planned nine pilots, empowering local communities to use citizen sensing around issues that mattered to them;
2. Collaborating with many partners on the local and national level, amongst which Comunidad de Vecinos de la Plaça del Sol, Dutch Lung Foundation, US Embassy in Kosovo, the Kosovar and the Dutch Institute for Public Health and Environment, Dutch National Meteorological Office, Wageningen University, the municipalities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bergen op Zoom, Eindhoven and Maastricht, WISE Netherlands;
3. Developing the Smart Citizen Platform and releasing v1.5 of the Smart Citizen Kit at Fablab Barcelona and developing a new open source NOx sensor kit at Fablab Amsterdam;
4. Producing high-quality resources for the on-line Making Sense Toolkit, encompassing technical documentation, mapping of best practices, workshop formats, community level indicators, and more;
5. Achieved a total visits count on our website of almost 150K, and over 2M hits. Our user rate has clearly grown throughout the length of the project, counting that we had 244 visits in June 2016 and 8611 by October 2017. Moreover, we have produced over 50 blog posts and almost 10 short videos and one full length documentary.
6. Producing of five scientific publications and 23 popular articles, five of which of audio-visual nature;
7. Making Sense was featured in the VPRO Tegenlicht television documentary series, reaching 500.000+ viewers;
8. Participating in seven internationally acclaimed conferences and running 32 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: 1419 participants;
9. Overall, Making Sense partners spoke at 45 conferences, in 24 cities around the world. Together these presentations have reached to at least 5514 people. This is 4.5 times our expected target.
10. Having a spin-off: Tree WIFI: the Urban AirQ pilot in Amsterdam inspired a commercial start-up.
Above we listed our main achievements. Of these we find the following beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact:
1. Producing a final publication aimed at reaching Citizen Sensing practitioners in which our learnings have been condensed in the form of 25 tools to study, apply and adapt to various environmental challenges and cultural contexts.
2. Lorentz Workshop on Air Polution (Leiden University, 22-26 January 2018), bringing together the top scientific and civic minds in the field of air quality citizen science. Legacy of Making Sense.
3. In all three cities, Making Sense has supercharged civic action, leading to demonstrations, media attention and even policy change
Pristina Making Sense pilot: Science for Change
Amsterdam Making Sense pilot: Smart Kids Lab
Amsterdam Making Sense pilot: Urban AirQ
Barcelona Making Sense pilot: Community Champions