FILLING THE FEEDBACK GAP OF PLACE-RELATED ‘EXTERNALITIES’ IN SMART CITIES: Empowering citizen-sensor-networks for participatory monitoring and planning
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SubjectShaping and Changing of Places and Spaces
With this paper, we present the set-up of the pilot experiment in project “Smart Emission”, constructing an experimental citizen-sensor-network in the city of Nijmegen. This project, as part of research program ‘Maps 4 Society,’ is one of the currently running Smart City projects in the Netherlands. A number of social, technical and governmental innovations are put together in this project: (1) innovative sensing method: new, low-cost sensors are being designed and built in the project and tested in practice, using small sensing-modules that measure air quality indicators, amongst others NO2, CO2, ozone, temperature and noise load. (2) big data: the measured data forms a refined data-flow from sensing points at places where people live and work: thus forming a ‘big picture’ to build a real-time, in-depth understanding of the local distribution of urban air quality (3) empowering citizens by making visible the ‘externality’ of urban air quality and feeding this into a bottom-up planning process: the community in the target area get the co-decision-making control over where the sensors are placed, co-interpret the mapped feedback data, discuss and collectively explore possible options for improvement (supported by a Maptable instrument) to get a fair and ‘better’ distribution of air pollution in the city, balanced against other spatial qualities. The approach is based on the philosophy of ‘bottom up urban planning,’ from local places to city-government levels. With this pilot project we analyse how planning practice can benefit from seizing the opportunity of enabling technologic capacities and advancements of small and low-cost sensors, sensor data, Spatial Data Infrastructures and dispersed Geographic Information Flows. In our view, focusing these technological innovations on what economists call ‘externalities’, brings these externalities on the table and puts them in the spotlights for the eyes of citizens and city-planners. Being measured and counted transforms externalities as air quality from ‘unaccounted for, invisible side-effects’, treated separately from economic choices, into traceable ‘feedback’ about the state of our cities, and our own role in it. We aim to present the first intermediate empirical experiences while executing the pilot project at the Aesop 2015 conference, as the first few sensors are rolled out in the pilot area at the end of June 2015. At Aesop, we seek a dialogue about these types of new ways of planning practice and planning support (for instance using many low-cost sensor measurements as input), and using Open data for processing real-time analyses for sustainable cities in smart, affordable and democratic manners.
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