Weekly experimenters updates #3


Two types of projects
An old saying goes that there are two types of project: those who have had problems and those who will have them. ParGarCom is no exception and has experienced a development delay due to a number of issues with the originally chosen development framework that have forced a change in the working environment.

In a project with more flexible deadlines, the initial scheme would have been followed or further attempts to maintain the planned plan would have been made. But the time constraints existing in Organicity led us to consider the shift before the delay was unbearable.

It is not a complaint, the rules of the game are accepted and that leads to making decisions in accordance with them. Internal meetings, decisions to take, faces of concern and a team that works together to make everything go as it should. That’s all. 

Finally, we keep the original deadline with small internal modifications and the feeling that the problems are to be solved. And we’re working on it. On the Saturday 13th meeting explained in the blog post, it was decided to change the focus of the technical development. On Tuesday 16th we had a first sight of the app under the new conditions though it still needed improvement. On this URL you can see a video in which we appreciate a problem with data loading time. The problem is associated with the requests sent to the Organicity platform and the Santander City Council data. As today we have been informed that the loading time problem is solved though we cannot send video yet.

Besides that, we have included the possibility to add information directly on parks and gardens cards shown on the map as you can see on the image above.

On January 18th Beesensor and Optimum Ventas have had an interview with a journalist from Ara Balears newspaper ( who will write a piece of news centred on the activity of the first one but that will give a particular focus on the ParGarCom experiment. We have been asked not to publish photographs about the interview until the news is published.


A bump on the road, a first draft simulation of the mechanics, has been made. It was estimated that the implementation of the standalone fill-level box would have been difficult to integrate into one of the containers (the one far to the right in the previous update). This type of container is hard to enter as have to be done physically and tricky to mount the solution on the top surface architecture, as it might block for full sensor exposure. Few of this type are located in Herning - however, the same containers are to be found in all of Aarhus. This issue is anticipated to have been resolved with the renewed mechanical structure taking advantage of gravity and mechanical design practices.  


Data is now being received on The Things Network (TTN) network from the Lora Device. The cloud integration with Microsoft Azure has been setup and currently developing the web app to integrate with the devices and interface with the citizens. Hardware for all three cities has arrived using Pycom modules and first printed circuit board (pcb) are expected to be built and integrated in an underground container at the end of next week. Deployment in all three cities are expected to run at a much faster pace when the first is tested and functioning adequately.

The main challenge so far has been developing the hardware to fit for sustainable experimentation, as underground integration wear and tear has been at high risk for failure deployment. It is yet unsure how well the antennas will perform under such circumstances, that might weaken the validity and reliability of the data relating the co-creation activities (if we can trust citizens input?). Iterations will be made until successful deployment is reached, and the group is certain to succeed.

To risk prevent ioteelab has established contact with suppliers and experts that have to build similar applications before to aid potential arising connectivity issues much faster.

Anthropologist via our subcontractor Mejlgade Lab is engaging in co-creation activities in the municipality of Aarhus. Several meetings and dialogues have been held, and by the end of this month, an incentive scheme and report is expected to be at hand to be implemented in the citizen's interface. Furthermore, a feedback loop has been planned for the citizens of the area, to report back their experience during engagement with the experimentation.

Simultaneously ioteelab is in collaboration with the municipality of Herning arranging co-creation activities. Activities will be held at the beginning of next week with citizens in areas where sensors will be deployed. Updates of co-creation events are to come.

A LoRaWAN Gateway will be set up at the heart of Herning (Town square) during the start of next week. It is perceived that Herning so far is excited to engage in smart city activities and IoT ecosystems and look forward to the results of the co-creation activities. Overall it seems as the experiment are having a positive impact on them, and they foresee to maintain the path of smart city engagement after experimentation.

A second LoRaWAN gateway will be set up at Aarhus University in Herning that also find the project exciting.

The weakest link according to the project plan is engaging with Santander municipality. Implementation is expected to happen mid-February, where the overall technology stack is supposed to be more mature. Communication to the municipality will be initiated during next week regarding co-creation activities and deployment.

Update 18th of January

The project group has engaged in the first field simulation. The ultrasonic sensor started performing poorly at 2 am and crashed at 3 am. It is estimated that a more robust encapsulated waterproof sensor is needed. The fastest delivery spans between 7-14 days creating a potential bottleneck situation.

Herning: Both Lora gateways are running and configured correctly and it is scheduled to set-up the gateway at the town square in Herning on Monday. Contact information on the pedestrian at the town square and caretakers of the neighbourhoods has been given, and communication is now being processed.

Santander: The co-creation activities in Santander are established. Local partners have been found to facilitate co-creation activities part 1, 2 and 3 that will break down the language barrier.

  1. Explaining to the citizens what will be happening/introduction to the experiment
  2. Finding out what requirements/will motivate the citizens to report back the fill-level using QR Codes and press a button, also find the right set-up
  3. Feedback loop near the end of the experiment (idea generation and summary)

Furthermore, the group is in contact with the University of Cantabria (UC), technical advisors and the Environmental General Manager regarding using existing Lorawan coverage in Santander, choosing geographical collaborative venues and accessing citizens. It has been let known to us that there’s a great interest in the project from the municipality side and that the citizens have been complaining in regards to the fill-levels of the bottle banks.

A request has also been made to test the paper containers; this requires to think the solution out of the box as false condition alarms are at risk due to the cardboard covering the sensor gate.

Aarhus: The co-creation activities in Aarhus are established. A local partnership is set up with Mejlgade Lab and 5 anthropology students. A focus group is planned in January, where 5 citizens that live in the area where the solution will be installed will attend.
They will be presented with the iRecycle project, and as with the Santander workshop, the following aspects will be evaluated:

  1. Explaining to the citizens what will be happening/introduction to the experiment
  2. Finding out what requirements/will motivate the citizens to report back the fill-level using QR Codes and press a button, also find the right set-up
  3. Feedback loop near the end of the experiment (idea generation and summary)

Herning: More than ten areas have been chosen for deployment, and the local caretakers have been contacted. Currently, the municipality is arranging formal invitational flyers to be dealt out in those areas reaching to more than 800 people on the experiment. The workshop is set for 29. January.

RainSense: Connecting communities, spaces and water (by OTA Analytics)

Since the turn of the new year, OTA Analytics have been busy, with lots of boots on the ground, putting smart installations into the Southwark community. We have installed six rainwater tanks, four of which will be connected, using IoT technology.

Four 800 L tanks have been installed at residential properties in the SE15 and SE17 area (in collaboration with Southwark Borough Council) and two have been installed at a local primary school (in SE17), to engage and excite some of our youngest stakeholders.

Whilst the installations were taking shape, we delivered a whole school assembly (to ~200 pupils) on what happens when it rains, using a clever little Plui cloud experiment rig, designed by our community engagement manager Lorna.

She then led a creative workshop, inspired by the assembly, to get a Y5 class to draw their own ideas for rainwater harvesting, and what happens when we don’t manage our rainfall to the best of our ability. We will print the artwork drawn in the workshop onto aluminium boards, and use them to decorate the tanks in the school and the community. We have more workshops planned with the school for the spring and summer terms, tying the technology into maths, science and geography KS2 curriculum.




“It’s raining, it’s pouring,
the kids are exploring,
how to stop flooding,
and get plants to start budding,
so that’s why the rainwater’s storing!”

Follow us for more updates on twitter: @OTAanalytics

Data On Site - Research[x]Design

We’re actively working on a methodology to help cities or citizens start public visualization projects. This tool is based on our experience in conceptualizing and designing public visualization deployments and involves four distinct segments that build on each other and form a loop that enables an iterative approach.

  1. Define –> 2. Show –> 3. Build –> 4. Learn

During our experiments in Aarhus in the week of January 29th, we intend to evaluate the first and second part of the methodology through workshops with the city municipality and with engaged citizens. The third and last part of the method will also be further defined by our experiments in Aarhus through the deployment of our current prototype in public spaces.

This prototype is also continuing to evolve. Networking over 3G is now included as well as interactivity through four buttons for collecting the sentiments of passers-by and managing the public displays.

Edinburgh CitySounds

Community Co-Design Workshop
Pursuing our goal of collaborating with Edinburgh Living Landscapes and other partners to explore how soundscape data can support community engagement, education and citizen science and increase the value created by urban greenspace, we invited stakeholders and interested parties to an initial CitySounds Co-Design workshop on 9th January 2018.

We were excited to see interest from across a wide range of disciplines and organisations, with participation from Scottish Wildlife Trust, the University of Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council Biodiversity teamFriends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (FOMBL), the Bat Conservation TrustGreening Our Streets and New Media Scotland.

It was a great event, full of ideas and enthusiasm. Here, we briefly mention the main topics of discussion.

Roundtable discussion

Simon Chapple illustrates spectrogram of audio sample and map of proposed WiFi access point.

Exploring and understanding the data that will be captured

  • The six audio monitoring devices will each record 10-second samples in rotation, focusing on biodiversity in the Meadows. The devices will operate 24/7.
  • We are hoping that these will pick up birds, bats (which cannot be heard by the human ear), rain, traffic noise, etc. It will be interesting to see how many anthropogenetic sounds occur in the ultrasonic range.
  • We should be able to detect bird sounds within a 50–100m range and bats within a 30m range. (Interesting fact: Bats are loud! Their signals are typically over 100 decibels)
  • We are in the process of installing a WiFi access point on the 6th floor of the University Main Library, facing the Meadows.
  • Data will be directly transferred via WiFi to a server—so no data will be kept on the devices themselves.
  • It was pointed out that it will be important to make it as easy as possible for small biodiversity organisations to access the collected audio data, since often these have little or no resources for dealing with technical intricacies.

Community engagement actions in the project: who are we targeting and what do we want to achieve?

We are planning to organise at least three community engagement events during the course of the project:

  • First data literacy workshop (open to stakeholders)
  • Second data literacy workshop (open to interested groups and the public)
  • A final sonic art exhibition open to the public.

    We spent the last section of the workshop discussing various ideas for these events.

Whiteboard capture of ideas for engagement event


The two data literacy workshops

These workshops will be an opportunity to communicate with the public about acoustic data and to engage their interest in data, IoT and urban greenspaces. We discussed:

  • What are we trying to achieve in the workshops?
  • What issues should the workshops address?
  • How can these apply in general to biodiversity monitoring?
  • How can they apply to the green network across the city that Edinburgh Living Landscapes is creating?
  • What is the target audience for the workshops? People already involved in biodiversity activities?

Co-designing in action


Measuring impact of biodiversity initiatives in the city

How can Edinburgh Living Landscape, FOMBL, the CEC Biodiversity team, and other interested partners use acoustic data to create evidence and evaluate the impact of their work? We are hoping to continue the monitoring after March 2018 (i.e., beyond the period of funding from OrganiCity) — having 12 months of data or more would be valuable to us and to our partners.

FOMBL/Greening Our Street:
Can the monitoring help identify ‘green tunnels’ through the city? This would be really valuable information for shaping future biodiversity initiatives.

City of Edinburgh Council:
It is time-consuming and expensive to collect biodiversity data, much of the information about sites across the city is out of date. It would be very useful if IoT technology could be used to get much more timely biodiversity data. Amongst other things, this would give evidence to support continued protection of those green spaces.

The Sonic Art Exhibition

Martin Parker explains plan for sonic art exhibition.

We revisited plans for the end-of-project exhibition and event and considered whether to adapt or expand it. This event is intended to be both a response to the audio assets collected by project and simultaneously a way of engaging with the public. Martin Parker explained his original conception, where six speakers would each be controlled by a location-aware app on a phone, determining what, how and when sound comes out of the speaker. In addition, the speakers would be movable, and members of the audience could arrange and re-organise the soundscape within the physical exhibition space.

Ideas that we discussed included:

  • How can we build a biodiversity storytelling aspect to the sounds? Should we, for example, include information about bats as an accompaniment to the audio?
  • How will we represent ultrasonic sounds to the public?
  • Can we capture different times of day on speakers, so that people can hear sounds associated with the night, the morning etc.
  • Should we associate sounds from different parts of the Meadows with different parts of the room?


In December, we had a focus group with 6 Aarhus citizens where we talked about their perception of safety in Aarhus in general and discussed our initial SafeCity concept in particular. Based on their input, we saw a need to adjust our concept. While participants were enthusiastic about the notion of providing fellow citizens and authorities with information that could enhance safety, they were not interested in a map where unsafe areas were visualized. The reframed concept is therefore focused on receiving notifications from - and reporting information to - the app, while providing users with a sense of community around the building on a safer city.

This week we have been clarifying the use scenario and started wireframing the concept.

Open data Velenje

We are gathering stakeholders and talking with each other how to get best data. We have managed to get local public bike rental data and local transport. Still talking do local communal company and waste disposal company. Having some technical setbacks (problems with hardware) but in the coming week, we will solve it.

In the following week we are still doing interviews with the stakeholders that have public data we want to access them. In this week we have also got together with the development team. We are deciding how to represent data. Do we only give access to data or create a simple API for developers to access data quickly and easily?

Traffic Pollution Flow

Our air sensors are being re-calibrated so that they do not lose power during the measuring phase. We are working on the process of reading the traffic data so that we know how to analyse them going forward.


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