Lessons learnt from DIY innovation: The story of Public Lab

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Lessons learnt for DIY innovation:The story of Public LabCindy RegaladoUniversity College London, UKCitizens without Borders, UK | @CwB_LondonPublic Lab, Global | @PublicLab

cameraKite

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kitemeIm a kite-mapper!Summer crops, Switzerland

publiclab.org

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Hyperion Lyceum, Amsterdam Sept 2013part of Waags Eclectis programme

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Kite-mapping with youth from Hyperion Lyceum school, Amsterdam

Youngsters teach others DIY aerial mapping techniques

Youth create their own DIY Near Infrared cameras & teach the public of Amsterdam about NIR & plant health.

They develop innovative ways of sharing their knowledge & experience

Youngsters analyse their Near Infrared pictures taken with cameras hacked by them

Youth open up digital cameras to exchange the filter for a blue filter: a hands-on learning experience on making tools for open science

DIY approachAnd those who are not involved?Creating communicative spacesLessons learnt from the Public Lab experience

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Why DIY &from DIY to DIT

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not fit for purpose

Range from politicised responses to satisfaction of having a job well done;essence of DIY is one of self-: self-reliance, self-learning, self satisfaction;taking ownership, figuring things out by ourselves;yes, of course, it is frustrating at timesthe essence of DIY

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the range of DIY

Conversion of digital camera into Near InfraredDIY Arduino-based humidity & temperature sensorPlayful exploration of the environment

Civic science: from DIY to DIT isCommunity oriented & developedCommunity ownedTools can be adapted & spread in an open source fashion

cameraKite

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DIY spectrometry

Doing-It-Together meansLocals regarded as experts of their own environmentsStems from public exploration & investigation of environments

grassroots bottom-up efforts provide granularity and nuance that renders them inclusive of local issues, knowledges, politics, and sustainable solutionsGowanus Canal civic science

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aerial mapping

balloon mapping

cameraHelium-filled weather balloon

simple noise monitor

kite mappingkite-making workshopcameraKite

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mapknitter.org

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Google Earth Outreach earth.google.com/outreach

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People like you and me seeing things more clearly

COMPOSTING FESTIVAL IN GOWANUS, BROOKLYN21 October 2012

JUAKALI WOMENS CRAFT MARKET, UGANDA5 October 2012

examplesstories of the Gowanus Canal, NY

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Helping to set up a cleanup process but where ?Gowanus Canal Sewage: gets a million gallons a day

Gowanus Dredgers - their problem along the Gowanus Canal is raw sewage pouring into the Canal during heavy rains about a million gallons per day of the stuff.32

Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping Program

So what have decided to do ? Well the sewage overflows are directly related to too much rain getting into our sewer system so weve launched the Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping Program were we tie helium balloons and send them up a 1000 feet to take pictures of the Canals water quality and opportunities for improving it. 33

15 DECEMBER 2012 BALLOON AERIAL

GOWANUS CANAL MAPPING OF SEWAGE PLUMES FROM HURRICANE SANDY DAMAGE

In particular, we are interested in spots were rainwater could be diverted out of the overloaded sewer system and into old historic stream beds that got buried a hundred years ago. The idea is that by figuring out a more natural and sustainable manner to manage our rain water we can be better prepared for the big disasters. This for example is balloon photo taken by our canoe team right after the Sandy Hurricane which caused our local sewage pump station explode, pouring massive amounts of sewage into New York waters. But what can better quality Citizen aerials actually tell us ?34

15 DECEMBER 2012 BALLOON AERIAL

GOWANUS CANAL MAPPING OF FRESH WATER INFLOWS FROM HISTORIC SPRINGS INTO SEWAGE CONTAMINATED WATERSUnmapped spring discovered

Here is an example In this post Sandy photograph we notice that most of the Canal water is a milky sewage contaminated white but look there is a darker spot to the right of the photograph whats that about ? A historic spring is pouring fresh water into the Canal helping clean it. How can we find out more ?35

First Street BasinAs seen from canoe

filled with drums of mercury contaminated waste, junked cars and a a truckload of electronic circuit boards, which you can see right next to the cat. This is the view of the landfill taken from a canoe on the water..36

CAN WE MAP ALL THE OLD GHOST STREAMS AND CREEKS ?

THESE CAN HELP DIVERT RAINWATER OUT OF SEWERS AND REDUCE SEWER OVERFLOW POLLUTION

Looking for Solutions to the Problem

This particular spot where we see the natural spring water coming in is next to the First Street basin site a side branch of the Canal which is now an illegal toxic waste landfill..37

1766 Freekes Mill BuildingPotential Spring

This is a publicRight of Way:Could this stream be restored for the new park ?Why are plants in concrete cracks growing so well ? Is the spring still running ?July 2011 Balloon PhotoCIVIC DATA THAT ASKS QUESTIONS

And this is a view taken from a balloon in the air you will note an unusual streak of green weeds running across the cement paving grid..38

Grassroots Mapping finding things that matter to YOU

Which when we zoom in reveals a strange pattern of weeds growing through the concrete grid which looks an awful lot like a buried stream bed.. And you may say yeah, yeah those are just weeds 39

1766

CAN OLD MAPS HELP US UNDERSTAND OUR GRASSROOTS AERIAL PHOTOS ?

FIRST STREET BASIN

But when we look at historical maps of the area, before it was filled with toxic waste, we notice in blue that we thought was quote unquote land was actually a massive pond with streams zig zagging all over the place. If you were in a time machine in this Hall of Science and we went back a century you would all be swimming right now as Flushing Meadows was built om tidal marshes very similar to the one in this map.40

EXISTING SPRING

1766 stream

FIRSTSTREETBASINGOWANUS CANAL(SALTY WATER)COLONIAL MILL NEEDING FRESH WATER

Original Tidal DamOLD 1766 MAP OVERLAID ON DO IT YOURSELF 2011 BALLOON AERIAL SHOWS US WHAT IS GOING ON

Which when we overlay the water layer from the 1766 map, we see a small stream next to an old mill building early settlers would build their houses next to fresh water springs as Gowanus water was too salty to drink. Sp now we have found the source of the flowing water.41

Surviving stream is now argument for 5th Street Basin Greenway & Park Restoration

Which when we go check, we find another still flowing stream. And you will notice the american flag in the garbage42

Grassroots Community Data Collection helped focus attention on this site

another story uncovered in the Gownus Canal, NY

The Revolution in our Back YardBattle of Brooklyn: 27 August 1776Alonzo Chappel, 1858

We became aware that there had been a Revolution in our Backyard the building you saw in the previous slide was Dentons Mill, the site of the Battle of Brooklyn in the War for American Independence45

Delaware Regiment fighting in Battle of Brooklyn, painting by Domenick DAndrea, Corbis Archives1776 Soldiers died and were buried here

The first American soldiers ever to die for independence died right here in Gowanus, and there bones are now scattered around the Superfund site but where exactly are they buried46

Where are the Buried Bodies ?

By using our high resolution aerial photographs and old maps we can now start exploring the question that any self respecting Brooklyn resident wantsthe answer for where did they hide the bodies ?47

Helping people tell their story

Bob Furman,local historian

But the question of where are the bodies ? has been now asked, and our happy red balloon attracted the attention of a New York Times reporter, which allowed the local historian to tell his story about the importance of the site. And that is precisely what Grassroots Mapping is about providing the easy to use tools for local citizens to tell their stories 48

The OVER MY DEAD BODY BALLOON MAPPING EXPEDITION comparing notes with local Brooklyn authorities on how much space would be needed to bury 256 bodiesPic by Dan Phiffer, 7 July 2012

We Consulted with the local experts on their professional opinion49

How much space would bodies take ?

Where could bones have survived ?

We focused on a site called Marylander Hill that historians pointed to and we immediately plunged into the classic Brooklyn question of How Much Space would 256 dead bodies take ?This was a rough estimate of how many soldiers had been buried.. 50

PORTIONS OF THE NORTHERN MARYLANDER SITE WERE EXCAVATED IN 2009, AND THIS AREA STUDIED BY ARCHEOLOGICAL TEAMS BUT NOTHING FOUND WOULD WE HAVE MORE LUCK WITH SOUTHERN PORTION ?1957 Columbia University Archeological Study Area( nothing found )8TH STREETTHIRD AVE9TH STREETFOURTH AVEMicrosoft Bing Aerials, circa 2010

1998 Bona Fide Oil Archeological Study Area

2012 Over My Dead Body Balloon Mapping Site NEVER EXCAVATED

1947 Robert Moses Historical Park Proposal Area

1890s Discovery of 30 bodies by Contractor Ryan - location unclear

We focused on this burnt out factory site as the most likely site for the historic cemetery as it had never been excavated51

The 7 July 2012 Balloon Photographs show an interesting pattern of cracks running on a north south axis. Military burials typically had bodies facing the rising sun. Cracks match proportions of burial trenches described by 1956 Archeological Survey.

And got the se great pictures of a concrete slab which you might say are boooring, until we zoom into them52

2010 NYC LIDAR 3D Topographic Model of Slab half inch bumps on slab

And we notice that the Citys high tech topographic data shows a weird pattern of bumps across the site 53

stories from Jerusalem, Israel

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Ala Salman who created an aerial map of a contested road that splits his neighborhood in two and damages its environmental and communal infrastructures, presents his DIY aerial image to MP's in the Israeli "Kneset. This map facilitated dialogue.55

collecting information and interpreting information, is what we do with these maps and these allow communities to tell their stories to put things into perspective56

The people I was working with had a story to tell on top of that aerial photograph they created. They re-appropriated 'the master's tool', the same tool that is being used in order to erase their presence and identity off the map, or to rationalize plans for destruction and regeneration in the city that ignores their local perspectives. 57

They have created aerial photography inSilwan, Beit Safafa or in Ein Karem, but they had to stand, physically, right beside it to give it their voice and knowledge. The questions that arise once they leave the aerial by itself into the offline and online streams of information, is who will it reach, what story will it tell --where do our maps go?. Aerial mapping is not about an objective reality to be visualized and decoded, but about mapping and thus seeing the subjective story that is embedded in the geography.58

aerial photographs do not speak for themselves. And in particular those made by communities. Aerial images are ground for interpretation an opportunity for dialogue, not an objective reality to be visualized and decoded. Community mapping tells the subjective story embedded in the landscape. - Hagit Keysar, 2013

and what we learn from these examples is that . it is not just about the final product or the objective data59

other stories

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not only cameras up there also phones!61

mapping of protests how many people were actually there62

Logging in Czech RepublicRefinery in Spain, 2014

Farming in Kenya, 2012

and those whoare not involved?

this is all very exciting but then those who are not involved?65

the myth of apathyLack of public engagementlow scientific literacy, technical skill, mistrust low transparencyapathy

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the myth of apathyan acknowledgement ofour anxieties (what is going on?),our ambivalence (competing desires and drives), andour aspirations (I want to do something about it) meet people where they are at, not where we want them to be Renee Lertzman (2012) So let's acknowledge plurality and let's really listen

if we look a little bit closer and turn the table around, we notice that actually, the discourse of behaviour change we hear people dont care and we have to get people to do what we want this mindset assumes that we are the ones whove got the solution & ppl need to change. Renee Lertzman invites us to reconsider the human dimension in this67

the myth of apathyA shift in focus from apathy & lack of scientific literacy as a problem to a recognition of a range of different knowledges that people have and use as they confront science and technology in their everyday lives - Cunningham-Burley (2006)

if we look a little bit closer and turn the table around, we notice that actually, the discourse of behaviour change we hear people dont care and we have to get people to do what we want this mindset assumes that we are the ones whove got the solution & ppl need to change. Renee Lertzman invites us to reconsider the human dimension in thisa shift in focus from a lack of scientific literacy as a problem to a recognition of a range of different knowledges that people have and use as they confront science and technology in their everyday lives Cunningham-Burley (2006)68

Communicative spaces that nurture innovation

How did I come to be invited? Let me briefly tell you the story of how I met the Waag69

Communicative space physical, virtual, intellectual, & cultural spaces where agency is acknowledged & supported

Finally, what youve been waiting for space or instance where peoples capacity to do Comes from field of AR70

Do-It-Yourself scienceownership over problem definition, data & knowledge building on collective expertise to use & develop tools/techniques

(but by whom & for whom?)

Critical makingprovides both the possibility to intervene substantively in systems of authority & power and offers an important space for reflecting on how such power is constituted by infrastructure, institutions, communities, & practices

Testing the Public Lab table-top spectrometer for flare spectrometry

hackingn.the ability to stretch& re-appropriatethe functionality,capabilities,& meaningof a given system,conception, or structurebeyond thoseprescribedby its creators - Muki Haklay, 2013

Conversion of digital cameras into Near Infrared toolsCourtesy of Wellcome Trust and Erinma Ochu

Why is having communicative spaces important?Acquiring expertise is a social process & the meaning of a concept is best understood through its useIt is where expertise mixes with experience in a playful, inviting, & disarming way

Spaces for experimentation safe, inclusive of constructive practices & dialogueCommunicative spaces build community, confidence, trust, & capacityWhy is having communicative spaces important?

Communicative spaces come into being whenWe reconsider & acknowledge different ways of knowing & doing;reconsider expertise;reconsider roles & spaces;

Courtesy of Citizens without Borders

Communicative spaces in Public Lab: lessons learnt

What were interested in with DIY and open source is access how can tools that we create become more applicable to the people that were trying to reach. Were interested in creating engaged communities, not just the technology.- Public Lab

1. Engage researchers not subjects

This turns those who have previously been research subjects into researchers!SHANNON LAST SLIDE

2. Pull complexity off the shelf: modify minimally

i.e. - Simple hacks convert complex, off the shelf consumer technologies into data collection devices, initiate a process of re-imagining our relationship to our manufactured environment. We are not end users

Transparency:Images+metadataconcealed operator

diydrones.com cyberquadrevealed operator

3. Build in openness & accountabilityballoon

Civic science is social. Anyone can follow the string back to the people on the ground, who, by virtue of circumstance, must explain who they are, and why they're there. The data is tied to on the ground experience, and on the ground experience is tied to community. Satellites and drones conceal their operators, and are designed for stealth and invisbility, mechanistically embodying the myth of the objective observer.

4. Create collaborative workflows

publiclab.org

Our website is built around research notes. Small snippets of process told personally and subjectively. Anyone can post a research note, or question the author of one.

5. Maintain public data archives

Important to build community/organisational memory. Archives a means to legitimize local data through clean, easy presentation and instant access to the technical languages of power-- allowing anyone to export data to whichever map software they use.

CERN Open Hardware 1.0Share Back with Attribution

GNU Public License 3.0Copyleft Viral Software Licensing

Creative CommonsShare Alike with Attribution For Media6. Protect openness with viral licensing

This license, called Cern Open Hardware License 1.0, similarly guarantees users of PLOTS tools that they will be free to use the designs forever -- that nobody "upstream" can change their mind and decide not to allow reuse. For contributors to PLOTS tools, it means that those who use your work must credit it to Public Lab and share improvements back to us. Creative Commons share alike licensing and the GNU Public License 3.0 create the same binding obligations for print materials and software, respectively.

7. Local versions of tools

Celebrate local innovation here local version of tools, their ramifications, it reflects their needs, their knowledge

The DIY approach in itself does not necessarily challenge or address systemic and structural limitations that contribute to the ongoing marginalisation of people Dunbar-Hester, 20

DIY helps us make issues visible, helps us ask questions indeed

Sensors & smartphones will not in themselves solve issuesCourtesy of Eymund Diegel, New YorkWater testing in the Gowanus Canal

what matters is the people: how we interact & the values that we hold & create together

Kite mapping workshop at Electromagnetic Field Festival, Bletchley Park, UK

What really matters, is the people: US, how we interact and the values that we hold and create together. Public Lab for example, holds the value of recognising expertise in everyone and thus have created a diverse and rich community of contributors and networks together developing open tools & techniques for env. monitoring.87

air-photography using balloon mappingThe way we tell & share those stories will become increasingly important to make sense of issues.It is the way we acknowledge & create spaces that facilitate interconnectedness & link to the bigger picture.Doing it together to find common solutions.Going from DIY to DIT (Doing-It-Together)

And so for the next 15 years the engaging and inviting communicative spaces we create with help shape how we relate to each other: the way we tell and share our stories will become increasingly important to make sense of issues & their interconnectedness. It will be by DOING IT TOGETHER that we will find solutions to our common problems.88

THANK YOU! And thanks to PublicLab.org community for their work and open source materials, many of them included in this presentationpubliclab.org | @publiclab @cwb_London c.regalado.lopez@gmail.comNIR image taken with a DIY NIR camera made by Hyperion Lyceum students, Summer, 2013

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