#10 Decoding Everyday -
a citizen science portal for streets and public spaces

Kiran Keswani, India

Decoding Everyday - a citizen science portal for streets and public spaces

Kiran Keswani, India

Initiative's goals and main activities 

The project identifies ‘street and public space design’ in Indian cities as a wicked problem. There are two reasons for this: one, these spaces are negotiated in dynamic ways on an everyday basis and two, there are interdependencies between the multiple stakeholders that result in a layered complexity.

This generates challenges in the planning of the Indian city because the static master plan for a 5-year period that the present system supports does not work for a city that is changing on the ground every day, besides being governed by a regime that thrives on informality and ambiguity. This matters because we cannot plan our cities on the assumption that informality does not exist, that it can be ignored or that it is possible to achieve ‘zero informality’.

Instead, we think it may be possible to develop a framework based on the everyday practices of people that influence this informality. Creating a database on our streets and neighbourhoods through citizen participation might allow us to hold up the ground reality as a mirror to residents, urban planners and city administrators.

Therefore, we would like to create an online portal using CITIZEN SCIENCE that captures ground-level data continually. We believe that every citizen can be an active participant in the production of knowledge about how streets and public spaces work, in their design and planning, and, in their maintenance and governance. 

 

Broadly, there are two sets of activities – developing the online platform (hardware) and developing active citizen scientists (people) who generate data continuously.

In order to get to the next level, the project needs to:

In the long-term, we would like to build different teams to work on the following components:

  1. PLANNING: To develop and evolve the framework for the online portal. To interact with a team of collaborators on a regular basis.

  2. TECHNOLOGY: To build the online platform with appropriate levels of data security. To include a mapping component (to geo-locate small, public spaces in different neighbourhoods) + create a phone app for crowdsourcing new data. To run the pilot tests for the mapping component + the phone app and incorporate the feedback to produce the final versions.

  3. VISUALISATION: To create visualisations in the form of maps and graphics using field data from contributors. This would enable in-depth analysis and a continual sharing back on the portal. To create the graphics to support the outreach program.

  4. AUDIO-VISUAL: To edit audio and video files that are uploaded by citizens as ‘oral narratives’ from their neighbourhoods. To initiate, edit and complete podcasts as part of the portal’s resource page.

  5. GROWING THE CITIZEN COMMUNITY: To plan out the social media strategy for publicising the portal. To expand the level of citizen engagement on the portal through arranging online and offline workshops that may explore an urban issue.

  6. PRODUCTION: To interpret the field interviews sent by residents/students to draw out citizen perspectives on spatial usage, temporalities and social interaction. To rewrite text and rearrange the visuals for sharing through interactive tools on the website.

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