Katherine Rooney

Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing

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  • Working with citizens to help them collect data about damp levels in their homes, using ‘frogs’ that have been designed by citizens with Knowle West Media Centre. Health impacts from living in damp homes is a big problem in Bristol. We are working with citizens to help them understand how data collection can help, then visualising it, understanding it, using it to change their behaviour and/or us it to show their landlord that there is a problem in the house.
  • Citizen data collection and ownership and licensing around that – if citizens are collecting and publishing their own open data then surely they should be able to own that data and licence it as they see fit (rather than just publish it onto a city data platform and have it as open government license. We are exploring a ‘data commons’ through The #Bristolapproach and there has been a great piece of research that was done for us about that which you can see in the attached document (you will see on Page 44 that Seoul is a case study.
  • More generally I can talk about ideas to help people who don’t really know data or are ‘scared’ of data to engage with it and start to use it. We are starting some projects now with ODI Bristol to reach out to citizens that have never heard of open data and see if they can start to understand all the ways iopen data can help.


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Working with Citizens to collect sensor data for an Open Smart City, in Bristol UK.

The City of Bristol in the UK is a leading ‘Smart City’. Open data is published and used to create innovative approaches to city challenges. But, how can we make sure that the people with good ideas can get involved, if they are not confident to access and use open data? And, what if there is no data there to help solve the challenge? In Bristol we work hard to reach out to all citizens and help them to understand the opportunities that open data presents. Also through partnership with others, we have developed ‘The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing’ – a project that uses sensors shaped as frogs to collect data about damp conditions in homes.

Katherine believes that open data is a powerful tool for democratic change and engagement, but that there is still a lot of work to do to make open data accessible for most people.

Katherine works for the City of Bristol in the UK. She manages the city Open Data Platform (https://opendata.bristol.gov.uk/) and helps to develop and support the open data ecosystem. As lead for the Open Data Institute Node in Bristol, Katherine works to increase awareness and understanding of open data, and reaches out to organisations that have city challenges that open data could help solve.

With a background in community engagement, behaviour change, business development and innovation within the UK environmental charity sector, Katherine believes that ‘Smart Cities’ are really all about people and not technology, and comes to the open data scene from a non-technical angle.

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