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A DIY networking toolkit for location-based collective awareness

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MAZI (A DIY networking toolkit for location-based collective awareness)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-12-31

MAZI means “together” in Greek and the main goal of MAZI is to provide technology and knowledge that aims to
- empower those who are in physical proximity, to shape their hybrid urban space, together, according to the specificities of the respective local environment,
- generate location-based collective awareness as a basis for fostering social cohesion, conviviality, participation in decision-making processes, self-organization, knowledge sharing, and sustainable living, and
- facilitate interdisciplinary interactions around the design of hybrid space and the role of ICTs in society.
MAZI identifies three main challenges raised by the evolution of the Internet as the global communication platform. These challenges pertain to political, social, and scientific domains.
- From a political perspective, the more information and communication technologies (ICTs) play a central role in our everyday communications, the more critical it becomes who has authorship in their design, who owns the corresponding infrastructure and information generated, who takes important decisions, and according to which objectives. When these privileges are granted to corporations with exclusively commercial orientation, the corresponding Internet platforms, even if they are very attractive and efficient in facilitating information sharing and other complex interactions, can severely undermine our privacy, independence, and quality of life. In addition to that, looking at ICT development from a purely commercial viewpoint dramatically limits the scope in which innovations emerge.
- From a social perspective, since the design of global Internet-based platforms is guided by commercial instead of humanistic interests and undermines face-to-face interactions and our everyday contact with difference, democratic dialogue, and conversations. Thus such platforms, despite their significant capabilities in facilitating various forms of information sharing, increase our addiction and dependence on technology and contribute to the alienation especially in the city.
- From a scientific perspective, the disciplinary gaps between engineers, interaction designers, and social scientists become wider as the virtual, digital, space overlays more and more the physical, and space becomes inherently hybrid.
MAZI delivers an advanced toolkit for empowering communities and individuals to deploy local wireless networks, shape their hybrid urban space and generate location-based collective awareness. These hybrid local spaces facilitate interdisciplinary discussions around the role of ICT in society, stimulate digital inclusion and promote social innovation. The toolkit was made “from the people, for the people” and the MAZI project involved real communities in the design and the development of all its components. The bottom-up approach enabled the integration of social aspects in the toolkit that are absent from the architecture of today’s Internet and ICT in general and empowered communities to take part on the design and configuration of their own network communication infrastructure. In addition, the MAZI toolkit gives control of data back to the people since all data produced in a MAZI Zone stay inside the zone and are part of the local hybrid space. By delivering this DIY social networking toolkit, the MAZI consortium provides the technology and knowledge for the engagement of citizens in the decision-making processes on local issues that concern their everyday life, for the stimulation of grass-roots participation in political life and for connecting local communities through broader networked systems, fulfilling this way the vision of a sustainable smart-city.
"MAZI achieved to deliver an integrated, extensible toolkit, which provides a wide range of customization options enabling its full adjustment according to the desired context. It also includes comprehensive guidelines, tips, lessons learned as well as a wide range of selected templates which can be used - and also enhanced - by its users in order to tailor its appearance, its network configuration and its provided services.
The four pilots have been established and developed according to the planned schedule in Berlin, in London, in Zurich and in Greece. Interaction between the Pilots was the key towards their comparative evaluation and towards the appropriate provision of feedback for the development of the toolkit. External users also showed great interest and deployed several MAZI Zones in Europe, South America and Africa.
For collaborations around the design of hybrid space --where DIY networking could play the role of a “boundary object”- MAZI partners have dedicated individual and collective work to the construction of a shared vocabulary across disciplines, as well as to build understandings of different methodologies in experimental research and participatory design. During and following up the cross-fertilization events, MAZI consortium elaborated extensively on the meaning of ""do it yourself networking"", explored its capabilities and limitations, and its impact on individuals and communities.
MAZI has organised and participated in a wide range of interdisciplinary workshops and symposiums. These include open, interdisciplinary workshop and symposium events organised as part of MAZI Pilot Study activities, as well as attendance at interdisciplinary events around Europe and beyond, aimed at the general public as well as at scientific, civic/policy making, activist and FLOSS/CAPS communities.
MAZI explored a radical approach of a bottom-up, open, and distributed way to generate location-based collective awareness which was based on local autonomous networks. Compared to existing Internet-based solutions MAZI has the big advantage of ensuring proximity of users without requiring sharing sensitive private information, among others. MAZI toolkit provides the necessary framework, knowledge, and tools for citizens to exploit the increased openness of DIY networking toward the common good.
It was a core objective of MAZI to build on this experience move from an interdisciplinary to a transdisciplinary methodology keeping DIY networking at the core of the interactions between researchers and local actors. MAZI designed a theoretical framework on the role of DIY networking, in particular of the MAZI toolkit, that is capable of facilitating interdisciplinary interactions in the participatory design processes of the hybrid space. This theoretical framework deals with various components that are interrelated, namely: i) reflections on the MAZI toolkit as a boundary object for interdisciplinary research, ii) the MAZI interdisciplinary framework for pilot design and iii) the comparative evaluation of the MAZI pilots.
Another central premise of MAZI was that privacy and self-determination is a fundamental right of citizens and it should not be compromised for scientific, political or other objectives. A key advantage of DIY networking is the possibility for participating in location-based interaction without the need to disclose any private information and indeed completely anonymously. MAZI deployments all over the world collect such anonymous data, which are already made available in an aggregated way to the local community through rich visualizations (a public server); but we will also share them, under the permission of the users, to the scientific community together with important contextual information.
Figure 1 - MAZI consortium
Figure 3 - The evoluation of the pilot studies and cross-fertilization events
Figure 2 - MAZI overall structure of workplan