The experiment CitizenSqKm (Km2 del Poblenou, in Barcelona) which, in 2015, forked out into Km2Ciutat (a sister pilot project now underway in other cities of the Province of Barcelona), is a technological platform, a methodology for community engagement and participation, and a research methodology for measuring social interaction among participants. Initially, the pilot project aimed to find out how geolocation technologies and community networks can be used, from local to global levels, in order to help increase civic engagement and benefit people.
Km2 del Poblenou has three main ongoing projects:
Local Historical Archive. Amical Wikimedia and the Salvador Espriu secondary school have teamed up with Km2 Poblenou to help preserve the photographic work and historical research by local artist, Xavier Badia. Amical Wikimedia is working to develop a protocol for the preservation and dissemination of local memory in graphic form, and the Xavier Badia Archive will be its first project of this kind. Students at the Salvador Espriu secondary school are learning about their neighbourhood’s industrial past by studying the Xavier Badia Archive and, in fieldwork, by geolocating historical images over today’s buildings. Related article in Catalan: Fons gràfic de Xavier Badia.
Tracking allergy-causing plants. Scientists from the Point of Aerobiologic Information (PIA) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have developed a guide for citizens to produce a phenology. Assisted by experts from the PIA, students from several schools in the Poblenou neighbourhood are learning to identify and scientifically observe how 10 specific species evolve throughout the year. They geolocate, photograph and describe a series of trees and plants in the neighbourhood, and the data they collect are stored in a collective database accessible to the PIA scientists. Related article in Catalan: Flora urbana i al·lèrgia.
Mapping urban voids. Urban Compass architects and urbanologists look at empty urban spaces as resources at the service of the city, as a commons to be managed in a way that goes beyond the concept of dual ownership. Viewing these areas as an opportunity for new temporary activities which need to be tested and prototyped, they are working with La Taula de l’Eix Pere IV, a group of residents in one of Poblenou’s streets, who have joined up to overcome the existing urban fragmentation and to create greater social cohesion in the area. They aim to reach agreement with proprietors, both public and private, for the temporary use of empty spaces, guaranteeing mutual benefit, proper maintenance and promoting greater use of public space by citizens. Together they are developing a protocol to provide accurate mapping of these urban voids, encouraging other residents to contribute to the project, discovering more empty spaces and imagining new ways of using them. Related article in Catalan: Els buits urbans.
CitizenSqKm was first developed as a pilot project (May 2014 to May 2015), funded by the European Union, within the Confine Project (Find Deliverables and Report here). It is a technological, educational, journalistic and civic administration project engaging in experimentally-driven research on community-owned local networks in a selected area. Its main aim is to benefit the neighbourhood by engaging the wider community in the discovery and improvement of their environment by collecting and classifying data related to it.
CitizenSqKm suggests that anyone who has a mobile device connected to the Internet can create, collect, process and share data massively, collaboratively, geolocatedly and in real time. By supplying data or knowledge with the aforementioned ubiquitous attributes of digitised media, citizens will regain ownership over that data and will therefore be able to have an impact on their environment, which, in turn, will empower them. In order to achieve this, users will need to have a mobile device connected with other users and, ideally, this connection will be open and free, like that provided by network communities.
The pilot project drew on the existing community network of the selected neighbourhood (guifi.net) and a geolocation platform (Itinerarium), and set about designing a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative methodology of assessment (IGOPnet) and implementing a communicative ecology with the wider local community. The resulting product, which can be re-packaged and adapted elsewhere, is a platform and a methodology for community engagement and participation, with guidelines for specific activities, and a research methodology for measuring social interaction among participants.
All resulting documents can be found at IGOPnet, are open to everyone and may be freely used and re-used.
ICTs for Inclusive Communities in Developing Societies
Edited by Jacques Steyn and Darelle van Greunen. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2015. Chapter 3: “An Experimental Methodology to Promote and Evaluate the Use of Community Networks for Civic Engagement.”,
Mònica Garriga, Jorge L Salcedo, Narcís Vives and Roc Meseguer
Proceedings of the 8th International Development Informatics Association Conference, held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa 3-4 November 2014.
“An Experimental Methodology to Promote and Evaluate the Use of Community Networks for Civic Engagement.”,
Mònica Garriga, Esunly Medina, Narcís Vives.