Participatory Urban Sensing

Participatory Urban Sensing

Participatory Urban Sensing emphasizes the involvement of individuals and community groups in the process of sensing and documenting where they live, work, and play. It can range from private, personal observations to the combination of data from hundreds, or even thousands, to reveal patterns across a city.

UCLA's Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) puts Urban Sensing into action in projects that span a broad spectrum of subjects such as public health and wellness, environmental science and sustainability, urban planning, and cultural expression. For a listing of projects, visit their Web site. Examples of projects include:

Cyclesense—CENS is designing an application that runs on mobile phones that enables bike commuters to log their bike route using GPS and provide geo-tagged annotations (images, text notes) along with automatic sensor data (accelerometer/sound) to infer the roughness and traffic density of the road. Using this information, CENS plans to create an interface to enable bike commuters to plan their route based on both safety and interest vectors. They are currently running a pilot, Biketastic, in which bikers can share their routes which are automatically annotated by noise level, roughness, variation in elevation and duration of stops.

Family Dynamics—CNES is working with UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior to develop technologies to document key features of a family's daily interactions (e.g., co-location, family meals, and consistency). The first coaching tool being prototyped is Andwellness, a personal health self-management application for the Android phones that supports flexible geo-spatial, social and activity triggered reminders and ecological momentary assessment.

Personal Environmental Impact Report (PIER)This online tool allows you to use your mobile phone to explore and share how you impact the environment and how the environment impacts you.

Project Details

  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: - Urban settings
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Contact Urban Sensing CENS/UCLA via e-mail, text (310) 848-0906 or call (310) 206-2476.

    For additional information, contact Deborah Estrin, director of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS),

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article