CitizenSqKm

Funding Institution: European Commission (CONFINE)
Team at IGOPnet: Joan Subirats, Mayo Fuster Morell (IP) and Mònica Garriga.

CitizenSqKm is a technological, educational, journalistic and civic administration experience and an experimentally-driven research on community-owned local networks located in a selected square kilometre. CitizenSqKm project explores how community networks can increase civic engagement.

CitizenSqKm conducted an experiment in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Poblenou, for 12 months starting in May 2014. The project, conducted by Itinerarium and IGOPnet, was selected to participate in the European Union project CONFINE to research on community-owned telecommunications networks.

It created a methodology of civic engagement using participatory media, which included:
. Strengthening the community network of the selected quarter; Tutorials Xarxes Comunitàries Sense Fils (in Catalan)
. Developing a geolocation platform and a Fòrum CitizenSqKm
. Implementing a methodology of civic engagement for a communicative ecology with the wider local community; with guides for specific activities for the community to participate via a wide range of paths, such as to extend the community network, learn to create a portable weather station or to recognise the urban flora that causes allergies (link to the web). Tutorials Paths for Participation in CitizenSqKm

The research project was based on experimentation, designing a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative methodology of assessment based on multilayer analysis, iterative planning and on cyclical evaluation, described in the article published at the 8th IDIA Conference, “An experimental methodology to promote and evaluate the use of community networks for civic engagement”, with:
. A methodology to collect the trail of data left by users as they designed their paths of participation, engaged their peers, and gathered and published the information . Data being collected on 5 layers which form the Communication Ecology Network Profile (Forum, Geolocation Platform, Social Media, Survey, Community Network).
. A methodology to measure social interaction among participants, which after the exploratory analysis needs to be tested to produce its first results in the first iteration of the experiment. Communicative Ecology Network.

Communicative Ecology Network.

Communicative Ecology Network.

 

This complex methodology, both for participation and for research, will allow for a systematic analysis of the relationships developed among participants and of the content collected and generated on the platform for educational, scientific, journalistic (and any other discipline) projects. The outcome of such analysis will be used in turn, to inform the platform and the educational, scientific, journalistic projects of the community. Consequently, both research and participation in the project will simultaneously observe, measure and enrich social interaction within the community.

Background

CitizenSqKm suggests that anyone who has a mobile device connected to the Internet can create, collect, process and share data massively, geolocatedly and in real time. And by giving data or knowledge the above-mentioned ubiquitous attributes of digitised media, citizens will regain ownership over that data, and consequently they will have the capacity to create an impact on their environment, which will empower them.

The square kilometre that surrounds us is an excellent learning and living environment when citizens are empowered to transform it. CitizenSqKm encourages participants to conduct a census of the land, its inhabitants, its infrastructures, its services, its history and its nature and to also take full advantage of open data coming from public administrations and sensors.

The local community network actively participates through pedagogical and ludic (play) experiences in the discovery and improvement of the neighbourhood by collecting and classifying data related to it, creating geolocated layers of relevant information and itineraries.

All this data (digitized media) can be created, collected, processed and shared by anyone who has a mobile device connected to the Internet (or the network). All existing media can be translated into numerical data accessible for computers, and due to its ubiquitous attributes, digitized media blur the boundaries between the roles of public administration, journalism, entertainment or educational sectors.

For citizens to continue to be engaged and informed, and to be able to transform and enhance their lives, it is not sufficient, anymore, to simply conduct a description and transmission of facts to audiences; the communication process needs to instigate citizens participation, and it needs to be able to influence and help citizens to exchange ideas to create some form of ‘democratic debate’.

Community networks are structured and organized to guarantee that all benefits and value they generate, go to the users of the network, and as such they will contribute to the socioeconomic development of the place where they operate. They provide local connectivity, within and among their communities, making it possible to offer a wide range of services to its users, going beyond the Internet or telephone network, such as transporting telemedicine services, digital education, or local digital commerce. They are an emerging and successful model for the Future Internet across Europe and beyond.

CONFINE’S Project partners are well-established community networks with large end-user bases and diverse application providers (e.g. content distribution, voice, data and multimedia communication), research institutions with experience in key related areas, non-profit organizations and SMEs with experience in supporting researchers, community networks and end-users.

The Community-Lab testbed integrates and extends three existing community networks: Guifi.net (Spain), FunkFeuer (Austria) e AWMN (Greece).

CONFINE complements the existing Future Internet Research and Experimental (FIRE) facilities infrastructure by establishing a new facility built on the federation of accessible community IP networks constituted by more than 20,000 nodes and 20,000 Km of links, a test-bed. These community networks incorporate a large and wide variety of commodity wireless and optical links, heterogeneous nodes, different routing protocols, applications and a large number of end-users, following an innovative model of self-provisioning using unlicensed and public spectrum.

Once the CONFINE project was established, a call to researchers was opened, in the educational and the industrial environment, and to the rest of civil society, to investigate how the citizens of the European Union can benefit from using the test-bed for technical, social and economic research, to improve sustainability and the uses of community networks.

Project leader: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Partners:
• Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
• INESC TEC Technology & Science
• Fundació Privada per a la Xarxa Oberta, Lliure i Neutral guifi.net
• FunkFeuer
• Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network
• The OPLAN Foundation
• Comunicació per a la Cooperació – Pangea
• Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
• Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology

Financial support: European Comission ICT FP7 (Contract Number: FP7 – 288535)

Experiments selected (1st open call)
Open Source P2P Streaming for Community Networks – OSPS (UNITN)
Confidentiality in the open CONFINE world (UL)
Anonymous communication with unobservability (FUB)
Exploitation of information Centric network principles in wireLess community NEtworks (CLONE) (CNIT)
Wi-Fi network Infrastructure eXtension (WiFIX) (INESCP)

Experiments selected (2nd open call)
Technological experiments:

CrOwd-Shared Mesh netwOrk for universal internet Service – COSMOS (UCAM, LUH)
Joint Transmit Power and Rate Control on CONFINE Testbed – MinstrelBlues (TUB)
Enhancing Reflection and Self-Determination in Community Networking – Reflection (Routek)
Blessing of The Commons: Improving Radio Resource Utilization Efficiency in Community Wireless Networks – BTC (FTW)
Social experiments:
Citizenship Square Kilometer – Citizensqkm (Itinerarium, IGOP)
Contextual Analysis of Community Network Sustainability (NAF)
Impact of Community networks as Alternative infrastructure in remote and Underserved areaS – ICARUS (UWC)
Testbed expansion:
CONFINE extension towards OpenFlow experimentation: infrastructure, software and demonstrations – CONFLATE (CNIT, UNIDATA)
Sarantaporo.gr WiFi Networks – Sarantaporo.gr (SAR)

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