European Transport and Mobility Forum

Citizen observatories: can we involve citizens in data collection to solve their problems?


(Imre Keseru) #1

Recently, there has been an increasing interest for bottom-up data collection initiatives when citizens and stakeholders initiate and implement data collection campaigns in citizen observatories to collect data about their surroundings. Citizen observatories are IT platforms based on participatory sensing i.e. data collection by volunteers using smart mobile devices. But the questions arise:
Can we trust the the data that is collected through a campaign organised by citizens for citizens?
Would you use such data fro planning or research?
How can we ensure that such data is representative and accurate?

(Alain L'Hostis) #2

The initiative NoiseCapture allows to record georeferenced urban soundscape for analysis purpose. A smartphone app can record noise data coupled with GPS tracks. This allows to produce maps of sound, and is a raw material for research on soundscape and the study of traffic and mitigation strategies.
Collected data has to be done with a calibrated device.
In this example data quality can be controlled and hence analysis made from this data, gathered by sound aware citizens, could be safely use for research and urban planning purposes.

Modalities, types of co-creation in transport? - wiki
(Imre Keseru) #3

That’s very interesting Alan. A few years ago we also developed a similar app NOISETUBE and used it in a research project to measure the noise of nighttime deliveries to supermarkets. They certainly provide an easy to deploy tool for noise measurements by citizens. The caveat is that they have to be calibrated to all the different phone types, so it is difficult to keep it up to date.

Modalities, types of co-creation in transport? - wiki
(Alain L'Hostis) #4

Calibration is a critical point; NoiseCapture has different techniques for that including calibrating from an already calibrated phone, and this can be done in a “NoiseCapture Party” session.
Calibration issue is directly related to the trust specialists may have in the citizen produced data

(Imre Keseru) #5

We are actually testing the accuracy, reliability and representativeness of citizen collected data for mobility in the FLAMENCO project.
We have a recent paper on the concept of a citizen observatory for mobility.

Citizen observatories that incorporate participatory sensing can complement traditional and automated data collection methods for mobility planning and increase the level of participation of citizens in transport planning. The process of developing such an online environment is not only time-consuming and costly, but it would also require an extensive knowledge of computer programming. This is one of the main barriers to the proliferation of citizen observatories. Therefore, this paper develops a conceptual framework of a citizen observatory platform that does not require special skills or resources. It would enable the collection, analysis and exchange of quantitative and qualitative mobility-related data by citizens. We have reviewed 69 participatory sensing applications in the field of mobility to derive the essential building stones of such an observatory. We identified the requirements considering eight criteria: campaign management, objective, context, data types, sensing technology, motivation of data collectors, validation and representativeness, visualisation and reporting. Some concerns regarding representativeness of data, motivation of data collectors, accuracy of sensors and validated algorithms for indicators are also raised.


(Xavier Sanyer) #7

This is certainly a very interesting topic and as you say, it has some barriers to take into consideration.
From ATM, we would like to introduce our participatory GIS project in the ATM operational area, consisting of 5.7 million inhabitants and 985,066 million journeys in 2017.
The participatory GIS project consists of an online tool where everyone can make contributions and comments in a geolocated tag associating their position and their comments within the demarcation of Barcelona. Faced with future mobility challenges, pdM (Director mobility Plan) participative mapping allows you to introduce suggestions on five different aspects:
Health and air quality, Public transport, Private transport, economic activity and mobility, active mobility.

Is Geographic Information System technology a useful tool for defining mobility policy strategies with the involvement of the public?

Would interactive mapping exclude certain types of users depending on their technical ability?

Modalities, types of co-creation in transport? - wiki
(Rebecca Hueting) #8

In my view, it depends a lot on how you design the User Interface of such a system. I recently took part in the collection of proposals for the SUMP in Rome (very intuitive italian only version :sweat:), where Administration opened a portal where citizens had to subscribe. When registered as individuals or group/team, they could select any point from the city map and leave their idea for a feasible solution/project in that area.

When the time was up for collection of inputs, all proposals were voted by all subscribed members and the most voted ones were evaluated by the Administration for feasibility.

I was surprised how simple the procedure to leave proposals and the high participation confirmed its validity.

In conclusion, I imagine participatory GIS project could involve the general public, with average technical knowledge of such tools, if high usability is reached.

Modalities, types of co-creation in transport? - wiki
(Alain L'Hostis) #9

I am aware of an initiative in Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL) using citizen data for transport planning. MEL is participating in the European cycling challenge every year; this challenge supposes using an app to collect kilometers of bike run in the agglomeration for a month as a competition with other European cities, but the data include also gps tracks; produced data is then retrieved by MEL and processed in heatmaps; these maps are then confronted with bike masterplan to hierachise short term priorities for action as can be seen on slide 7 of this presentation. Citizens participating in the challenge were aware that their data could be used by the organisers, i.e. the local government institution (MEL) and they had to agree when installing the app.

Modalities, types of co-creation in transport? - wiki
(Alain L'Hostis) #10

Based on the posts in this question, I have started synthesizing the modalities of the participation processes in this post. I will update it with new ideas and proposals coming.