Things We Like: High Tech Tools That Enable Teens To Better Gather Neighborhood Data.

Posted on July 29th, 2010 at 11:52 am by in Things We Like

Things We Like: High Tech Tools That Enable Teens To Better Gather Neighborhood Data.

As you may have noticed recently if you follow our Twitter feed, Public Workshop has been working with the great folks at Landon Bone Baker Architects and their community partners to develop a program that enables them to have an even greater impact in the communities where they work than they are able to affect through affordable housing alone. In the next few days the project and its website will go 100% live and I’ll be able to tell you much, much more but in the meantime I want to share with you one of the really cool tools we’re using this summer.

Two of the biggest challenges in gathering data that is useful for the neighborhood, the City, the community partners and the architecture firm (Landon Bone Baker Architects) are the tremendous meticulousness required to do it properly and then the ‘sifting’ to make the information legible. I must say that we have been absolutely blown away by the skill of our teen interns- they have churned through both gathering and processing data in a manner that is jaw-droppingly impressive to watch. That being said, recording temperature, humidity, air quality, time of day and location at sixty different locations in the neighborhood, particularly when that data is time sensitive, is a real challenge.

What if it could happen seamlessly, allowing for observation of neighborhood use, conversation with passers-by and exploration of other possibilities?

Although our interns have proven outstanding at gathering data, they are particularly skilled at engaging with community members and their neighborhood in ways that adults simply can’t do. Thus, freeing them up to have these conversations and interactions (to make critical observations) while gathering data is incredibly beneficial to Shadelab.

This summer we are really lucky to have the support and partnership of Sensaris, and the use of one of their incredible mobile sensors, the City Senspod. This sensor, no larger than a wristwatch, unobtrusively maps the aforementioned data sets, quietly geo-locating and time stamping data as you move through a building, neighborhood or city. When paired with a bluetooth enabled phone, you can not only immediately see the data that is being gathered but it automatically uploads it to the internet so that you can see live feeds of the data being gathered. We are really looking forward to lofting the Senspod next week in our homemade neighborhood air quality sniffing satellite (imagine an oversized nose floating through the air). We also will be using the Senspod next week to test mapping the ‘health’ of safe-routes-to-school, something that a couple of our community partners are currently working on.

Please stop by Sensaris’ website to have a look at the really cool ‘toys’ they are creating and also have a look at some of the other great projects they are supporting. For example, they are currently partnering with IBM, attaching Senspods to cars that are traveling from Italy to China.

And make sure you stop by the Public Workshop website in the next few days for more information on Shadelab and the great folks at Landon Bone Baker.
-Alex Gilliam