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Making Sense

Community tools for making sense of the environment

Making Sense is an EU-funded project that explores how open-source software and hardware, digital maker practices and open design can be effectively used by local communities to make their own sensing tools, make sense of their environments and address pressing environmental problems in air, water, soil and sound pollution.


Making Sense is being carried out across three cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona & Pristina), each of which is organising three pilots researching methods of community-based environmental sensing. These nine pilots consist of communities of practice, such as makers and sensor experts. combined with communities of interest, such as concerned citizens living in polluted areas of cities. Combining these two communities, brings forces together to tackle the most urgent problems concerning environmental pollution.

The pilots always start by addressing citizen concerns. Based on these concerns, measurement strategies are co-created with multiple stakeholders and experts to come up with the most reliable outcomes. In Amsterdam, Urban AirQ is tackling pollution in the most polluted streets of the city by looking at street level details and variations. The other pilot in Amsterdam, The Smart Kids Lab, is teaching children about environmental sensing, data literacy and do-it-yourself sensor building. Barcelona is using community champions to co-create methodologies to address noise pollution. Pristina is empowering young people to start their own evidence-based air quality campaigns.

Along with the three cities where the pilots are being carried out are two research partners who are developing methods and approaches for community based sensing. The main goal is to develop a toolkit based on the pilots’ learnings that can be used by anyone who wants to do a similar project anywhere around the world.

As the main goal of the project is to develop an open-source toolkit for citizens sensing, open-source hardware and software are essential. The Smart Citizen Kit is an example of such open-source hardware that anyone can buy, use and reprogram in the way that suits the user’s goals.

Making Sense is a project by: Waag Society, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Peers Educators Network, University of Dundee & Joint Research Centre.

This project has been co-funded by the European Commission within the Call H2020 ICT2015 Research and Innovation action.

Images under Creative Commons License


Waag has been operating at the crossroads of art, science and technology for more than twenty years. It explores the social and cultural impact of new technologies from the values ??open, fair & inclusive.



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