Weekly experimenters updates #10

Catch up on what the experimenters have been up to this week.

IoTee Lab - iRecycle

This week has been packed with meetings, presentations and working on our new prototype version, also preparing for next week’s trip to Santander.

On the sensor side, the newest version has now been tested and produced. It will be deployed in all 3 cities and we are looking forward to analyze the data.

The co-creation stickers have also been made in 2 languages (Danish + Spanish), together with the description for the button.


This week the app has evolved and it is now possible to upload photographs, as well as comments about Santander's parks and gardens. The team is working hard so that users can contribute their videos and audio recordings.

We have also worked on the creation of a cache system to correct or mitigate the frequent crashes on Santander and Organicity's servers.

This week, the ParGarCom team has met [photo] to review progress and prioritize outstanding issues.
On the other hand, several attempts have been made, so far unsuccessful, to hold face-to-face meetings with representatives of the city council of Santander and with neighbourhood groups to launch the process of content co-creation.

At the same time, the head of a group of botanists in the city has been contacted by telephone. He has expressed their interest in carrying out tests with the app to catalogue plant species in city parks.

Traffic-Pollution-Flow – Traffic controlled by Air Quality

Our project is yet again experiencing delays due to problems with our Micro Radar.

The firmware located on the radar must be updated, but this can not be done without the radar shutting off. We are working on this, but need help from the supplier. Hopefully, we will be ready by next week but that has yet to be determined.

We are also looking into the possibility of getting an extension on the final deadline given the delays we have had.

Edinburgh CitySounds

So finally, we have been able to bring the full CitySounds Data Collector architecture online, and are now receiving encrypted audio data from our field test device, which is placed in a University private garden via our external WiFi AP mounted on the 5th floor of the Main Library.

And here you can see the 10-second audio samples (transferred via SCP and separately encrypted with GnuPG) flowing through onto the CitySounds server from Audio Capture Device 1 (never has a directory file listing looked so pretty):

Our Raspberry Pi based Acoustic Collection Devices (ACDs) are also now fully time synchronised through our local NTP server to ensure they work collectively and accurately to cover off each 60-second block of time. Once all six ACDs are deployed, they will each record a 10-second slice in sequence.

We are now on track with all of our Privacy Impact Assessment, info/privacy notices (see below), parks and community engagement, technical infrastructure and press release (that’s a lot of documentation, review and engagement right there!). This will allow us to deploy to the trees in the Meadows in Edinburgh early next week: this will be a major accomplishment, especially given the additional extreme weather and strike issues we have been having to navigate the last couple of weeks.

Research[x]Design - Data On Site

Wednesday night we presented our Citizen Dialogue Kit (CDK) at the Civic Lab Leuven meetup to an enthusiastic and varied group of engaged citizens. Currently, their main project is LeuvenAir; an initiative where they plan to distribute 100 air quality sensor in Leuven. As you can see, they’re well on their way in the short period they have been active!

In the following month and a half, we will work with the Civic Lab to evaluate the first complete version of the Citizen Dialogue Kit. Our aim is twofold, (1) to get a sense of the usability of the tool and the documentation, but also (2) to evaluate the impact on other citizens in the street.

Alongside we continue to work on the casing of the public displays. Always keeping DIY construction in mind and only working with off the shelf components, laser-cut or 3D printable materials.

Finally, we are testing the current back-end and starting work on the front-end interface for managing the CDK displays. Our source code will be shared on our GitHub page in the following days.

Tranquil City - Tranquil Pavement

This last week has seen us collating our responses from our tranquil exploration events in each of our focus areas. The explorations invited the public and local communities to come and experience tranquil spaces in London Bridge, City of London and Deptford. Following on from our last update, we held the City of London and Deptford explorations on the weekend. This meant the explorations were much slower, calmer and allowed more time to discuss the origins and history of the tranquil spaces we were visiting. During the walks, the participants were asked to gauge their opinions on whether they felt tranquil in these spaces themselves, and this feedback will be helpful in identifying trends in tranquil space attributes, which will be beneficial to our project as well as our stakeholders.

This week we have also been progressing with the planning for the ‘Lewisham Schools Air Quality Accreditation Scheme’ launch morning, which Lewisham Council have invited us to run workshops as part of the event on the 16th March. Our plan involves us running two workshops, to approximately 40 children in total, engaging them with the challenge of finding a ‘tranquil route’ to their school by using the Tranquil Pavement London tool, therefore finding less polluted, more enjoyable walking routes. We’re very excited to be involved with this!

A further development meeting was held with Outlandish at their Finsbury Park base to discuss how to improve the Tranquil Pavement London, and to set them on their way in their final development sprint. The exciting changes that Outlandish agreed to attempt were:

  1. Adding tube station locations and the ability to turn pollution data on and off to make it easier to use the Tranquil Pavement for navigation;
  2. Changing the Tranquil Space Icon to the “upright leaf” (as voted for at the Launch Event!);
  3. Making it possible for users to add their Tranquil Spaces via Twitter;
  4. Adding the feature for users to be able highlight London’s Tranquil Spaces that they think might be threatened, so that we can all work together to protect London’s tranquillity!

The Tranquil City core team also had a long meeting to review our future plans following our OrganiCity experimentation, which is essential for us to plan, resource and fund our future work. The learnings and relationships that we have developed as a result of our OrganiCity experiment so far has meant this discussion was very promising and exciting.

Umbrellium - WearAQ

This week was to be the start of a busy workshop month. Unfortunately, due to bad weather and timing, along with our partners at Loop Labs, we weren’t able to find enough participants for the workshop. So, in lieu of that, we had to reschedule and move some participants around with the plan to be back on track as of this week.

However, this hasn’t the been end of the world for us. As is the case with development, sometimes all it takes is a few days to implement new features. Looking forward, and ready to make the most of these extra days we’ve implemented new additions to the app - i.e the ability to take and save photos of what a participant believes to be a major contributor to their air quality perception - and we’ve also had a chance to test and debug more thoroughly.

Lastly, as a fun little addition, we’ve added LED lighting to the wearables that light up, colour-coded to the different perceptions logged by the participants. This gives a nice performative touch to the workshops.

So with that, we’re patiently waiting for next Wednesday, excited to jump into the first workshop which will be followed soon after by one on Saturday. In the meanwhile, to keep us busy we’re spending most of our days with a workstation looking something a little like the photo below just testing, testing, and more testing. Stay tuned for more WearAQ news from our (fingers crossed) first workshop next week!

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