Photos: Matt Eachus / Simon Webbon

FutureEverything is bringing the world’s largest independent environmental sensing network – Smart Citizen – to the UK with Intel.

Manchester is only the third city in the world to create its own Smart Citizen community, with the support of FutureEverything and Intel, following the example of Barcelona and Amsterdam. This workshop saw the kickoff of a local community engaged with the development of better tools for citizens to participate in the production of their cities.

SMARTMCR participants will:

  • Install a sensor within 3m radius of the city centre
  • Keep it powered, online and contributing data
  • Be an active member of the Smart Citizen community by contributing to the project’s evolution
  • Attend occasional meet-ups after the launch workshop
  • Answer occasional online questionnaires and/or interview

The Smart Citizen project aims to enable citizens to become active in capturing, sharing, making sense of data on their local city, through the development of low-cost sensors. The platform is open to anyone, anywhere, and people in Manchester can join a community installing the sensors and sharing data as part of the wider global network.

Connecting data, people and knowledge, the objective of the platform is to serve as a node for building productive open indicators and distributed tools, and thereafter the collective construction of the city for its own inhabitants.

The Smart Citizen project is based on geolocation, Internet and free hardware and software for data collection and sharing (Smart Citizen Kit (SCK) , RESTful API, mobile app and the web). The first layer is a piece of hardware comprised by two printed-circuit boards: an interchangeable daughterboard or shield, and an Arduino compatible data processing board. We have nicknamed the shield developed for this campaign ‘The Ambient Board.’ As the name suggests, it carries sensors that measure air composition (CO and NO2), temperature, light intensity, sound levels, and humidity. Once set up, the ambient board is able to stream data measured by the sensors over Wi-Fi using the FCC-certified, wireless module on the data-processing board. The device’s low power consumption allows for placing it on balconies and windowsills. Power to the device can be provided by a solar panel and/or battery.

Today we are witnessing big challenges in terms of the technology, sensors are not 100% accurate, and now we can observe how tendencies change in relation with sensor data, or other events, but it is still difficult to tackle a 100% exact measurement. This is one of the challenges that the Smart Citizen project has, we aim to keep building better tools together with the community on top of the initial framework we have been developing during the last 18 months. We expect customized mobile apps, sensors and API use, and we count on technology partners such as Intel to keep the evolution of crowd sensing.

The project was born within Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia , both focused centres on the impact of new technologies at different scales of human habitat, from the bits to geography.

Smart Citizens was a theme of the FutureEverything 2013 conference and the Smart Citizens publication by FutureEverything in 2013.