In traditional smart city visions, cities are covered in thousand of expensive sensors, managed by professionals, to collect data on everything from air quality to the movement of cars and people. But people can also get involved in measuring and mapping air quality themselves.
The Smart Citizen Kit can be placed in outdoor locations, such as balconies, windowsills and on top of buildings. Once set up, the kit streams data over WiFi to SmartCitizen.me, an open platform where data from kits is shared, creating a crowdsourced map of environmental data from cities around the world.
The Smart Citizen network has more than 1,000 active kits around the world. As well as individuals purchasing and installing kits themselves, cities can work with people to explore the potential of the kit. In Amsterdam, the Waag Society and the Amsterdam Economic board brought 100 volunteers together to gather data and learn about their local environments by using the kit as a measuring tool. At the end of the project 45 people decided to buy the kit so they could carry on using it.
In the near future, crowdsourced data could be used to supplement professional sensing networks and could make data collection much cheaper. Another purpose of low cost sensing kits is to create better awareness among people in cities about their urban environments so that they can use this knowledge to make informed decisions about their behaviour and to campaign for their governments to take action. According to Tomas Diez, Founder of the Smart Citizen Kit "It’s about empowering people to take their city back."