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Citizen Sensing: A Toolkit

Produced as part of the Making Sense project, which draws on nine citizen sensing campaigns in Holland, Kosovo and Spain in 2016 and 2017. Based on that experience, the publisher developed a framework and methods and tools for citizen participation in environmental monitoring and action. Their approach is bottom-up and participatory, which the publishers call "citizen sensing."
The publishers offer a software platform for collecting data, methodologies for making sense of data, and best practices and tools on community engagement and co-creation.

Champion CHAMPION:
Can be remixed

Making Sense

Discipline or practice

Open Government

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CC BY-SA Attribution-ShareAlike


PDF publication

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2 reviews for "Citizen Sensing: A Toolkit"

  1. I used this toolkit while working on a group case study about getting the views of a panel of citizens on different scenarios related to the change of the local public transport price table. We worked on the recruitment of a panel, the elements communicated to them, and the schedule of the panel’s day.
    The toolkit is very visual and very interactive. The framework describes 8 stages in details, giving the key participants involved in each one, the timing, the steps to be followed to complete it. It even describes the resources and tools needed to make it happen. When we used the toolkit, we focused on two steps that are at the early stage of the process: community building and planning.
    For each stage, the fact that there is a concrete example of the method in action is insightful, as it helps to move from theory to practice.
    The second part of the toolkit is made of case studies and above all key insights. I truly recommend going through them since they are a reflection of the past experiences of Making Sense: by listing the important things and valuable tips to keep in mind during the process, it can help to avoid certain pitfalls.

  2. Sean Currie says:

    This toolkit comprises of a lengthy PDF aimed at community activists (i.e. anyone who wants to make change collaboratively), especially using digital tools.

    The link from the Toolkit Navigator directs to a website page with various (sometimes interrelating) “materials and methods for the orchestrations of participatory sensing campaigns”. This is slightly confusing, but is useful for understanding the wider context of the creation of the toolkit, and other related toolkits that could be useful. Browsing around the website also reveals a range of useful tools, including campaigns to draw inspiration from and a blog which was last updated in October 2017. Moreover, the website appears only 85% complete, with the video section completely empty.

    Here, I will focus on the ‘Citizen Sensing’ toolkit, which is in the format of a PDF, and appears as the first result on the webpage that the user is directed to from the navigator. The PDF is a brochure of 221 pages (though each of these pages is very short). In terms of design, the creators could not have done much to make it more aesthetically pleasing, with icons, high quality and demonstrative pictures, and a consistent design used throughout.

    In terms of contents, the PDF goes through a foreward and lengthy introduction before explaining the Making Sense Framework in detail. This is followed by the most substantial part of the document: a look at the tools that can be used for building power in the community. After this, a number of illustrative case studies are given before the book summarises key insights and provides a glossary.

    The tools themselves are diverse in purpose, complementary, and exceptionally well presented. The sub-headings that pose easily understood questions that are likely to be in readers minds make for a highly usable format. The reader can just skim from tool to tool, looking at the information and tools most relevant to them. For example, an organising might not need to know why the ‘Community Building’ tools are important, and therefore can skip this subheading.

    Inevitably, there are some things that could be improved. The name is catchy but not particularly descriptive, meaning that the toolkit needs some reading before the reader understand what its purpose is. Indeed, this is part of a wider issue that the book is not hugely accessible to those who are not experienced or well read in the fields of building or activism generally. This is not necessarily a criticism but, rather, a word of warning for the reader who is not familiar with these concepts. While a number of key terms are defined in the glossary, a less experienced reader may have benefitted from them being introduced early on in the text.

    The key insights section is perhaps the most valuable part of the book, considering the immense insight that it provides in a short time. This part is so insightful and guiding, that I would suggest users of the manual to read this before looking at the toolkits or case studies. That is not to criticise the layout of the toolkit, since its current structure is intuitive.

    In sum, this toolkit is an informative, easily useful and detailed guide could serve community builders (or activists generally) who already have experience in the area, or are at least well read on the subject.

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